Theodore I. Reese III

Ted ReeseTOPSHAM, ME – Theodore I. Reese III, 84, of Topsham, passed away at Sedgewood Commons, Falmouth, on June 10, 2021, after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Ted was born in Dedham, Massachusetts, the only son of Mary Golden Bonnyman and Theodore I. Reese Jr.

Ted was educated at Noble and Greenough School and then on to Yale University. He graduated in 1958 with a B.A. in English, the Gleason Trophy in wrestling, and all the while winning four New England Freestyle championships. After Yale, Ted began a long and fruitful career in education and coaching wrestling after a stint with the United States Marines. With a Master’s Degree from Harvard (Education) and another from Brandeis (English), Ted earned his Ph.D. in English from Brandeis in 1972 while founding the first wrestling team in Brandeis’ history.

A gifted and beloved teacher and extraordinary coach, Ted and his wife, Lynn, embraced a career change and moved to Maine in the early 1970s after time teaching and coaching at prep schools in Massachusetts (Noble and Greenough, Milton Academy, and Tabor Academy). Ted and Lynn put a wrestling mat in their barn and never looked back. In Maine, Ted inspired generations of students at Camden-Rockport H.S. (1974-76), George’s Valley H.S. (1976-78), and Bonny Eagle H.S. (1981-1997). He finally finished up his active career at the University of Southern Maine as Head wrestling coach and founder of the wrestling program (1996-97). After he “retired,” Ted continued to coach wrestling at Scarborough H.S. and Mount Ararat H.S. and to teach in Adult Education/Senior College programs throughout the mid-coast.

Ted was more concerned with the growth and development of the individual student and his/her contribution to the whole team rather than an individual win or loss. Although he was a scholar and dedicated classroom teacher, wrestling remained his first love. It taught him how to survive and thrive and he taught that to others. “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” – from Tennyson to Ted. Ted’s mission was always to assist any student, young or old, male or female, to achieve their greatest potential, not only through school, but also with self-awareness and confidence achieved through persistence and hard work. It was acceptable to fail, if you learned from it; the coach and the team were always there to help you work harder, “to try and not to yield.” This was the life lesson particularly learned from the sport of wrestling and why Ted loved it so much. Wrestling accepts everyone and so did Ted. He has the recognition. the admiration, and the awards to demonstrate it.

Under his skillful tutelage, Ted’s teams won 42 state championships, while numerous individual wrestlers earned All-State and national recognition. He personally earned a myriad of honors and distinctions for his coaching prowess, including an award from the National Wrestling Coaches’ Association for 400 wins as head coach (1994), election to the Maine Wrestling Hall of Fame (1996), and multiple coach-of-the-year awards, among others. In addition, Ted staffed several World Cup and Olympic Teams as an Assistant Coach and was recognized internationally for his coaching acumen and success.

Always eager to help others achieve their best, in the classroom and on the mat, Ted opened his heart and life to his wrestlers. In the summer, Ted coordinated clinics for high school wrestlers with Olympic champions while providing tutoring for anyone who needed it, offered work on a dairy farm down the road, and, with his wife, provided trips to Portland for entertainment and cultural interests.

He leaves behind his beloved wife and loyal helpmate of 60 years, Lynn Bernheim of New York City, his brother-in-law and fellow U.S. Marine, Tom Bernheim and his nephew, Robert Bernheim and his family of South China, Maine. He also had two nieces, Anne Campbell of Starksboro, Vermont and Katy Bernheim of San Anselmo, California and their families. Although he is the last of the Reese line, his name is carried on by the four children of former wrestlers named after him. He will be sorely missed.