On Christmas Day, December 25, 2019, Jessie Reese Layton, loving husband and father, passed away at home with his sweetheart by his side, from the ravages of Lewy body dementia. He was 85.
Reese, as he was known by all who knew and loved him, was born into humble circumstances on February 24, 1934 in Thomaston Georgia to Perry and Addie Belle (Reeves) Layton. He was the youngest of 10 children. As the son of a Southern Baptist Preacher, he grew up in a very strict home.
Reese learned the value of work at a young age and held a wide variety of jobs throughout his childhood and early teenage years. He moved to California when he was 14. This is where his life-long career took root as he started working for his brothers in the construction industry.
Reese married Sara McKimmey in 1951 at the age of 17 and about 2 years later had his first daughter, Debra Ann. The marriage didn’t last and Sara returned to Georgia, taking Debby with her.
Reese met his sweetheart on New Year’s Eve in 1955 and they were engaged a few months later. He joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1956. Shortly thereafter, Reese was drafted by the Army. He married Elaine Smout in August 1957 in the Los Angeles Temple, only 1 week before reporting to the Canal Zone in the Republic of Panama.
During the years following the Army, Reese and Elaine raised their growing family in El Monte and Glendora California. They were blessed with a daughter, Barbara and sons Michael and Bill. Debby came to live with them in 1969 and they also had the opportunity to have a foster daughter, Dursilla June, join the family for a few years, and later, a foster son, Henry Josley, became part of the family. Just when they thought they wouldn’t be blessed with more children, they found out they were expecting and Jeffery arrived in 1981.
One trait that Reese is known far and wide for is the way he quietly helped others. Whether replacing water heaters, air conditioners, roofs or simply helping fix a broken toy, he was there. He taught others how to roof so they could earn money and he helped on countless building projects. His charitable heart knew no limits; he found great joy in serving others.
Reese and Elaine moved to Pleasant Grove, Utah in 1998, although they didn’t stay put very long. They had the opportunity to serve four missions in Nauvoo for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving a total of about seven years between 2002-2012. Reese used his construction background as he worked with NRI (Nauvoo Restoration Inc.) maintaining historical sites and missionary housing by day, and he participated in theatrical productions at night. On Sunday’s he served as a guide at the various historical sites.
Reese is survived by his wife of 62 years, Elaine Smout Layton; his daughters Debby Layton of Rochester, NY and Barbara Brown of Frisco, TX; his sons Michael (Mary Ellen) Layton of Glendora, CA and Jeffrey Layton of Austin, TX; his foster children Dursilla June Charley (Joe) of Tuba City, AZ and Henry Josley of Page, AZ; his brother Perry Layton of Glendora, CA; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, three brothers, five sisters, and his son Bill.
Funeral Services will be held Saturday, January 4, 2020, at 11:00 am, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1541 North 1300 West, Pleasant Grove, Utah, where a Viewing will be held prior to services from 9:30 to 10:30 am. Interment with Military Honors in Pleasant Grove City Cemetery.