Bob and Patty Reece Make It Better for Kids

Even though they have a grown-up daughter, it seems that Bob and Patty Reece never stop working hard to raise successful children in Evanston.

Though their address is in Skokie, the Evanston natives are pillars of their hometown community, involved in several initiatives to encourage and nurture talent and the spirit of giving back in Evanston’s youth: the Warren Cherry Scholarship Fund, the Fellowship of Afro-American Men (FAAM) Youth Basketball Program, the Justin Wynn Fund and the McGaw YMCA.

The Warren Cherry Scholarship Fund was established to honor the memory of the beloved Evanston educator Warren Cherry, Patty Reece’s brother, and to encourage and enable young people who are passionate about education and working with youth. Patty chairs the organization’s board and Bob is the president.

“[Warren] had a tremendous impact on young people and the community,” Bob says. “He had a real ‘can-do’ attitude.”

When the scholarship fund started in 1991, the organization gave out $2,500 in scholarships. Since then it’s grown, and last year, it gave 5 scholarships of $3,000 each and another 7 book awards of $750 each.

Bob learned about giving back at an early age. He grew up in Evanston and played in a basketball leagues sponsored by African-American community leaders in the 1960s, including Bill Logan, Evanston’s first African-American police chief. These community leaders and policemen encouraged the youth to stay in school, finish high school and go to college.

Now, Bob, who runs his own company, Reece Insurance and Financial Services in downtown Evanston, passes that wisdom onto the next generation. He has been coaching youth basketball with FAAM for more than 30 years.

“I’m hopeful I can give a word of encouragement that might help [the kids] later in life,” he says. His assistant coaches are other successful businessmen and community leaders who are great role models: District 65 Superintendent Dr. Hardy Murphy, a former college basketball player, Evanston Fire Chief Sam Hunter and Bart Rocca, a retired corporate executive and McGaw YMCA board member.

The Justin Wynn Fund, which Bob is involved with, is named after 4th grader Justin Wynn who drowned tragically while a student at Lincoln School in Evanston. “He had outstanding leadership qualities, sportsmanship and citizenship,” Bob says.

The Justin Wynn Awards, which nurture students who demonstrate gifts and dedication similar to Justin’s from elementary school all the way through high school, consist of camp scholarships and enrollment in the Justin Wynn Leadership Academy.

And, as if that weren’t enough, Patty and Bob are also chairing the McGaw YMCA’s 125th Anniversary celebrations throughout 2010, along with Jan and Tom Hazlett of Evanston.