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Reese Mathew Denniston



Born: 28 May 1918, Grant, Mecosta Co, Michigan
Died:23 Nov 1989, Newton, Catawba Co, North Carolina 

Reese Mathew Denniston was born 28 May 1918, the son of Emery Otis Denniston (1880-1965) and Helen Doris Earnshaw (Spitzer) (1889-1981).
The 1920 Census shows Emery Otis Denniston, and his wife Helen/Ellen Doris Earnshaw, living in the Grant Township of Mecosta County, Michigan, near his parents, John Mathew Denniston and Caroline Hart Denniston.  Emery and Helen/Ellen have one child, Reese Mathew Denniston (age 1 year and 8 months). 

1920 Census for Grant Township, Mecosta County, Michigan

Name Relation Home Personal Description Birth
Last First Sex Race Age S/M
O/R F/M Self Dad Mom
99 101 Denniston John Head O F M W 66 M Michigan New York New York Farmer
    ----- Caroline Wife     F W 71 M Michigan New York New York None
    ----- Myrtle Daug     F W 37 S Michigan Michigan Michigan None
100 102 Denniston Emery Head O M M W 39 M Nebraska Michigan Michigan Farmer
    ----- Ellen Wife     F W 21 M Ohio Ohio Ohio None
    ----- Reese Son     M W 1 8/12 S Michigan Nebraska Ohio None
Emery Otis Denniston and Helen Doris Earnshaw filed for divorce on 09 Nov 1927 in Allegan County, Michigan. Emery and Helen had two children at the time of the divorce: Reese Mathew Denniston (age 9) and Paul Weldon Denniston (age 5).  This must have been hard on the boys - divorce is always hard on children.  Helen kept custody of the two boys and eventually married Emery's first cousin, Orrin Denniston (the son of Elmer Augustus Denniston) about 1927. 
The 1930 Census shows Helen/Ellen and  Orrin Denniston living in the Lee Township in Calhoun County, Michigan.  Orrin is 29, Helen is 31, Reese is 11 years old and Paul is 9.  Usually a Census will the tell the "Relation" of everyone in the home to the "Head" of the family.  Since Orrin is now the "Head" of the family, Reese and Paul should have been listed as step-sons but were instead listed as sons.

1930 Census for Lee Township, Calhoun County, Michigan

Name Relation Home Personal Can
Birth Occu Industry
Last First O/R Radio Sex Race Age S/M Age
Self Dad Mom
116 116 Denniston Orrin Head O R M W 29 M 26 Yes MI MI MI Farmer Truck
    ----- Ellen D. Wife     F W 31 M 18 Yes OH OH OH None  
    ---- Reese M. Son     M W 11 S   Yes Mi MI OH None  
    ----- Paul W. Son     M W 9 S   Yes Mi MI OH None  

Reese and his brother Paul Denniston

Reese attended Marshall High School in Marshall, Michigan.

Marshall High School Yearbook Photo from 1939

The 1940 Census shows Orrin & Helen Denniston living in the Marshall Township in Calhoun County, Michigan.  He is 39 and she is 41.  Reese is 21 and working as a salesman in wholesale, earning $300. Paul is 19 and working as a Handyman at a Bakery. 

1940 Census for Marshall Township, Calhoun County, Michigan

Home Farm Name Relation Personal Grade Birth Occupation Income
O/R Last First Sex Race Age S/M Occup Ind
R No Denniston Orrin Head M W 39 M HS2 Mich Night
Bread 750
    ----- Helen D. Wife F W 41 M HS1 Ohio Radio
Factory 0
    ----- Reese Son M W 21 S HS4 Mich Salesman Whole
    ----- Paul Son M W 19 S HS4 Mich Handyman Bakery 0

Family Cabin in North Michgan


Reese loved cars, motorcycles and airplanes - Here are a few that he owned

On 08 Oct 1940, at the beginning of World War II, Reese enlisted in the Army Air Corps in Calhoun County, Michigan.  He was 22 at the time of his enlistment.  He was single, weighed 122 lbs. and was 64 inches tall (or 5 ft 4 in).  His enlistment was for the Panama Canal Department.  In 1940 the US still held partial custody of the canal which connected the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  Reese was released from the military on 06 Feb 1942.
He was turned down the first time because he was too short.  He went home and stretched himself (hanging from a doorway) for a month and went back a second time to register.

Reese met Winifred "Wini" Irene Gardner as he went to register for the military and they started dating.

Wini (right) and Peggy


(Left) Wini and a friend, (Right) Wini



Reese Denniston



Reese with Mike, Walt and Paul - Thanksgiving 1940


 Reese (right) with friend, Eldon, on his 1940 Indian "4"


Two of Reese's friends, Ralph Yoder and Alton Osmun


While in the military, Reese was assigned to work in Anchorage, Alaska.  He was not allowed to tell Winnie where he was during his correspondence.  There could be no references to the weather or landscape so that someone could guess his location either.  He taught instrument flying. 

The boat Reese took to Alaska in 1941


This is what Reese wrote on the back of the following photo:


Pilot House on the Boat to Alaska (Reese is not in this photo)


Air Corps Male Chorus at Elmerdor Field, Alaska - Sept 1941 - Reese top center of photo


Reese in his uniform




Reese with his brother Paul

Reese married Winifred Irene Gardner on 08 Apr 1941.  Both Reese and Winifred were 22 at the time of their marriage in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  Winifred was the daughter of Joseph I. Gardner (1892 - 1987) and Clara Hameister (1895 - 1930).  She was born 23 Feb 1919 in Saginaw, Saginaw County, Michigan.
Reese was an avid writer - keeping journals for many years of his life.  He even encouraged daughters Linda, Jo and Sharon to keep a journal.

Reese's Wedding Day Journal Entry with Photo of Wini in the Same Location

April 7 8 April



  This was the most wonderful day of my life so far.
Reese was sent to Anchorage, Alaska, on 16 July 1941.  The following is his journal entry.
Journal Entry for July 16 & 17, 1941

July 16 17 July
  Landed at Seward today. It was foggy and couldn't see very far but what we could see was beautiful. 
  The train ride from Seward to Anchorage was slow.  We arrived about 4:30 in the afternoon and didn't have a thing to eat all day.  Saw some beautiful scenery and a glacier.
  P.S. The draftees had sandwiches packed for them.
  The sun sets about 10 p.m. and rises about 2 a.m.      
  We are living in tents and the light comes thru them making it hard to sleep. 
  The ground is going up and down.  Once in a while it moves sideways too it seems.

Winnie was teaching elementary school in Jackson, Michigan, while Reese was in Alaska.  The following is Reese's journal entry on 7 & 8 Dec 1941 after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Reese's Journal Entry About Japan Bombing Pearl Harbor and World War II

December 7 8 December

 Japan bombed P.I. and Hawian Islands this morning.  They afterwards stated that war had begun as of dawn.

  War was officially declared against Japan today.

  Was married 8 mo. ago today (08 Apr 1941).

Military photo from Reese's collection


To see the letters that Reese wrote to Wini when he was in the military

Reese hurt his back while in the service and thus received an early release from the military.
Reese and Winifred's marriage produced three children, all girls.
Children of Reese Mathew Denniston and Winifred Irene Gardner
Name Birth Death Spouse
Linda Louise Denniston 1945
  Clarence Bonnett Riggs III
m. Feb 1967
Broward, FL
JoAnn Denniston 1947
Detroit, MI
  Worthington Frederick Seese, Jr.
m. 05 May 1967
Broward, FL
Sharon Sue Denniston 1963
Miami Beach, FL
  Kevin Crubaugh
m. 27 Mar 1999

Linda and JoAnn in the 1950s


Reese, Wini and the family lived in  Berkley, Michigan (a suburb of  Detroit) where Reese had an insurance agency.  Wini helped part time at the office and they hired a housekeeper, cook, babysitter they called Grandma Fagg even though she was not related. Reese had a good friend who was a Chiropractor who encouraged him to pursue it as a career since he had been healed from a back injury by this form of medicine.

Reese and Wini's first house in Berkley, Michigan, with details below



Reese & Wini's second house - in Colombia, Berkley, Michigan


Linda and JoAnn at the Berkley, Michigan house

The 1948 City Directory for Royal Oak, Michigan, shows that Reese is selling automobile insurance.

1948 Royal Oak Michigan City Directory

The 1950 City Directory shows Reese & Winifred still living in Royal Oaks, Michigan, on 1721 Columbia Rd B and was working as a "slsmn" or "salesman.

1950 Royal Oak Michigan City Directory


Reese and Wini with Professional Foods in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Reese decided to choose chiropractic as his career so he moved the family to Chicago where they lived in married student dorms. Reese graduated from the Nation College of Chiropractice in 1953.

Graduation photo of Reese in 1953 - He was 35


Reese and Wini

Reese and Wini researched on where they wanted to settle. They narrowed it down to South Florida and Bowling Green Kentucky and finally settled in Plantation, Florida.

To learn more about Plantation, CLICK HERE


Reese & Wini's first Florida home at East Acre, Plantation, Florida, Home - 1954


Linda and JoAnn


Wini with Linda and JoAnn


Back side of the Plantation, Florida, home


Reese in the 1950s



Reese and Wini enjoy a Florida vacation


Reese's love of cars continues

The 1960 City Directory shows Reese & Winifred living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at 208 Bayberry Dr.  He was working as a Chiropractor at 35 SW 40th in the Westgate Clinic.
The same 1960 City Directory shows Reese's mother, Helen, and step-dad, Orrin, also living on Bayberry Dr., Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

1960 Fort Lauderdale, Florida City Directory


Reese, Wini, Linda & JoAnn clean up around the house on Bayberry Drive after a hurricane



Reese in the 1960s

Reese learned how to fly and even owned several small airplanes.  Wini, on the other hand, had a great fear of heights and hated to fly - even on commercial airliners.

Reese with one of his airplanes


Helen and Orrin Denniston (Reese's mother) moved to Baker's Mountain, Catawba County, NC.
Eventually Reese and Winifred moved their family to Newton, Catawba County, North Carolina.
Reese Mathew Denniston died 23 Nov 1989 in Newton, Catawba County, North Carolina at the age of 71.  Wini died 19 Sep 1999 in Newton, Catawba County, North Carolina at the age of 80.

Linda Louise Denniston - 1963 High School Graduation



Plantation Collegian Sings in "Horn" Chorus

     Boone, N.C. - Linda Denniston of Plantation (Florida) sings in the chorus in Kermit Hunter's "Horn in the West," Outdoor Drama playing nightly (except Mondays) through Aug. 19.
     The production, portraying the story of Daniel Boone and the pioneers' westward movement, is presented in the 2,500-seat, under-the-stars Daniel Boone Theatre atop the Blue Ridge Mountains.
     Miss Denniston is a sophomore at Florida State University where she is majoring in choral music education.
  She has appeared at Florida State in the Junior Theater productions of "Kismet", "Flower Drum Song", "Down in the Valley" and "South Pacific", and in the Florida State Opera Guild productions of "Carmen" and "My Fair Lady".

Clarence Bonnett Riggs III and Linda Denniston Riggs with Christopher, Curtis and Carl


Linda Denniston Riggs visiting with sister JoAnn in Hickory, NC


Daughter's Sharon (left) and JoAnn (right)
with Sharon's children, Skyler, Matthew and Amandalyn from 2008


Thanks to JoAnn Denniston Seese for her help with the various branches of her family