Anyone who can stay in the same business for 44 years while working for eight different bosses at the same time means you must be doing a good job.
Genelda Reese has held the same position she first started at Bulloch County Hospital, then Bulloch Memorial Hospital, and then at East Georgia Regional Medical Center for nearly half a century. She is leaving her post as director of Food Services at the end of this year.
Reese’s job’s title and description may have changed over the years, but she was always the one in charge. East Georgia CEO Bob Bigley acknowledged the impact Reese has had at the hospital when speaking about her at a recent retirement party.
“In my five years at the hospital, I’ve come to depend on you for far more than just providing nutritious food to our patients,” Bigley said. “Your departure will leave a hole in our organization that will be nearly impossible to fill.
“Don’t anybody else start thinking of retiring now, too!”
Raised in Soperton, Reese first attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and then went on to graduate from the University of Georgia with a degree in Food and Nutrition in Home Economics.
After leaving UGA, she participated in a three-year “Pre-Planned Work Experience” at Emory University in order to become a “Certified Dietitian.”
During this three year period she worked at the Emory College Food Services, at Emory Hospital, and then at Eggleston Hospital. This means of getting certified no longer exists.
She met her future husband Waymon Reese while working during as a counselor one summer at a Baptist children’s camp run by Waymon’s father, a well-known Baptist minister.
Eventually, Waymon left his first job at Kennestone Hospital in north Georgia to become the administrator of Bulloch County Hospital. Shortly thereafter, Genelda came on staff, and began more than four decades of service to the community.
According to lifelong friends Bill and Annette Smith, after taking his new job Waymon moved into the Parker Apartments on Main Street, where they too had just moved. Annette said that in their conversations Waymon would talk lovingly about his wife Genelda, whom they had not yet met.
Once she moved to Statesboro, the Smiths and Reeses became fast and furious friends. Although dedicated members of the “Bulldog Club,” Genelda and Waymon became the most fervent Auburn University fans in Bulloch County, even though, neither attended Auburn.
According to another close friend, Fred Bryan Darley, it was Waymon’s father’s love of the Auburn Tigers that caused the Reeses to be as big Tiger fans as they were Bulldog fans.
It wasn’t until Darley’s sons started attending Auburn that he befriended the Reeses, but ever since that first game they have tailgated at more Tiger games than either could possibly count.
Waymon passed away a while back. Reese said the time had come to spend more of her time to deal with everything from pressing health issues to her many community activities.
Annette Smith said of her best friend, Genelda, “She is an incredibly gracious person; very upbeat and uplifting to all that come into contact with her. You’ll never meet a finer lady”