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David D. Rees standing beside one copy of the Bible in Braille.

Photo courtesy of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Archives.

Rees, David Dee (1871–1949)

By Sabrina Riley

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Sabrina Riley was born in Auburn, New York and raised in Dowagiac, Michigan. She received a B.A. in history from Andrews University and an M.A. in information and libraries studies from the University of Michigan. Riley was a member of Andrews University’s library staff from 1998 to 2003, library director and college archivist at Union College from 2003 to 2016, and is presently a freelance researcher, author, and information professional.

 

David Dee Rees, an Adventist educator, editor, and author, was born in Indiana on May 4, 1871.

Early Life

The son of an Adventist minister, Joseph Madison Rees (1844–1909), and his wife, Melvina (Seward; 1844–1909), David Rees served as tent master of his father’s evangelistic meetings in his youth. A Civil War veteran, Joseph Rees joined the Adventist Church through the influence of his wife, whom he married in 1866. Melvina Seward had joined the Adventist Church around 1858. Thus, David Rees and his three sisters, Edith (1867–1884), Ada (1869–1966), and Pearl Lane (1878–1966), were raised in an Adventist home. Joseph Rees was president of the West Virginia Conference in 1909 when he was struck by an automobile on a visit to Washington, D.C. He died of his injuries. David Rees’s sister, Pearl Lane Rees, was dean of women at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.A., for many years.1

Education, Marriage, and Career

David Rees’s high school education in Indiana inspired a lifelong love for literature, language, and debate.2 Following graduation from Battle Creek College in 1895, Rees became secretary-treasurer of the Oklahoma Conference. While in Oklahoma, Rees married Anna Miller in 1896. The Reeses would eventually become the parents of four children: Virginia M. (1898–1990) married Edwin Ogden; Dee Miller (1901–1970) became a physician; Edda J. (1906–1980) became a teacher, married Theodore Larimore, and earned a doctoral degree the same year as her husband;3 and Conard Newton (1908–1976) had a long career in Adventist education that culminated in the presidencies of Southwestern Junior College in Keene, Texas, and Southern Missionary College in Collegedale, Tennessee.4

David Rees’s long career in education began in 1897 when he became head of the English department at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. At Union College, Rees opened the first print shop in 18985 and served as literary editor of the college’s publication, The Educational Messenger.6 He also published a textbook in 1903, How to Punctuate.7 During his eight years at Union College, he became acquainted with James White Loughhead. Loughhead was likely responsible for Rees’s move to Mount Vernon Academy in Ohio in 1905. The Rees family remained in Ohio for five years. During part of that time, David Rees was also editor of the Columbia Union Visitor.8

In 1910, the Reeses moved west, where David Rees alternated between administration and teaching at a number of Adventist schools. As principal and business manager of Forest Home Academy in Mount Vernon, Washington, Rees also taught history, English, and science while his wife was the school’s accountant.9 The Reeses moved to Auburn, Washington, in 1914, where David Rees simultaneously served as superintendent of the Educational department and secretary for the Young People’s and Sabbath School departments of the Western Washington Conference.10 Just a year later, he moved to Walla Walla College, where he returned to teaching English in a college classroom for two years.11 He then became principal of Campion Academy in Colorado in 1917 before returning to Nebraska in 1919 as secretary of the Educational and the Young People’s/Missionary Volunteer departments of the Central Union Conference.12

Later Life and Legacy

A serious illness in 1926 rendered Rees partially deaf, ending his career as an administrator and teacher. However, instead of retiring, he became the manager and editor of the Christian Record Benevolent Association, sometimes operating as secretary or treasurer as well. At nearly 60 years of age, he became passionate about his work for the blind, learning to read braille and New York point. A volume of his poetry, Hilltop Vistas, was published posthumously in 1949 by Southern Publishing Association.13 He was secretary, manager, and editor for Christian Record when he died on October 4, 1949.14

Rees’s reputation for sacrificial service to Adventist education was noted in a tribute published after his death. At one time earlier in his career, he was offered a position at a non-Adventist college, where he would have earned twice his present salary. He turned it down, noting that he could not leave God’s work. Rees’s early association with Union College and his long residence in Lincoln, Nebraska, made him a link between the founding generation and later generations.15 For Union College’s 50th anniversary in 1941, Rees co-authored the college’s first history book with Everett N. Dick.16

Sources

“College Items.” North Pacific Union Gleaner, September 9, 1915.

“Conard N. Rees obituary.” ARH, September 2, 1976.

“David Dee Rees obituary.” ARH, December 29, 1949.

Dick, Everett. “A Tribute to D. D. Rees.” Clocktower, October 14, 1949.

———. Union: College of the Golden Cords. Lincoln, Neb.: Union College, 1967.

“J. M. Rees obituary.” ARH, April 15, 1909.

“Man and Wife Win Doctorate Degrees.” Lincoln Journal Star, May 18, 1945.

“Melvina Rees obituary.” ARH, April 21, 1910.

“Pearl Lane Rees obituary.” Atlantic Union Gleaner, March 28, 1966.

Rees, David D., and Everett Dick, Union College, 1891–1941. Lincoln, Neb.: Union College Press, 1941.

Rees, David Dee. Campus Echoes. [College Place, Wash.]: Walla Walla College, 1916.

———. Hilltop Vistas. Nashville, Tenn.: Southern Publishing Association, 1949.

———. A Hint to the Wise: Correcting Some Common Errors in the Use of the English Language. College View, Neb.: Union College Press, 1926.

———. How to Punctuate: With an Appendix Giving Rules for Capitalizing and Spelling. Lincoln, Neb.: The Woodruff-Collins Printing Company, 1903.

Reid, Maude. “D. D. Rees Relates Early Life and Call to Work for Blind.” Clocktower, April 17, 1930.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1910, 1912, 1915, 1920, 1926, 1949.

Sharp, W. W. “Forest Home Academy.” North Pacific Union Recorder, July 6, 1910.

Notes

  1. “Pearl Lane Rees obituary,” Atlantic Union Gleaner, March 28, 1966, 11; “J. M. Rees obituary,” ARH, April 15, 1909, 24; “Melvina Rees obituary,” ARH, April 21, 1910, 23; “David Dee Rees obituary,” ARH, December 29, 1949, 20.

  2. Maude Reid, “D. D. Rees Relates Early Life and Call to Work for Blind,” Clocktower, April 17, 1930, 4.

  3. “Man and Wife Win Doctorate Degrees,” Lincoln Journal Star, May 18, 1945.

  4. “Conard N. Rees obituary,” ARH, September 2, 1976, 31.

  5. Everett Dick, Union: College of the Golden Cords (Lincoln, Neb.: Union College, 1967), 139.

  6. Ibid., 300.

  7. David Dee Rees, How to Punctuate: With an Appendix Giving Rules for Capitalizing and Spelling (Lincoln, Neb.: The Woodruff-Collins Printing Co., 1903).

  8. “Columbia Union Visitor,” Year Book of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1910), 171.

  9. W. W. Sharp, “Forest Home Academy,” North Pacific Union Recorder, July 6, 1910, 2; “Forest Home Academy,” Year Book of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1912), 161.

  10. “Western Washington Conference,” Year Book of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1915), 64.

  11. “College Items,” North Pacific Union Gleaner, September 9, 1915, 4.

  12. “Central Union Conference,” Year Book of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1920), 30; “Central Union Conference,” Year Book of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1926), 30.

  13. David Dee Rees, Hilltop Vistas (Nashville, Tenn.: Southern Publishing Association, 1949).

  14. Maude Reid, “D. D. Rees Relates Early Life and Call to Work for Blind,” Clocktower, April 17, 1930, 1.

    “Christian Record Benevolent Association,” Yearbook of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1949), 318.

  15. Everett Dick, “A Tribute to D. D. Rees,” Clocktower, October 14, 1949, 2.

  16. David D. Rees and Everett Dick, Union College, 1891–1941 (Lincoln, Neb.: Union College Press, 1941).

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Riley, Sabrina. "Rees, David Dee (1871–1949)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Accessed June 20, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=EA0X.

Riley, Sabrina. "Rees, David Dee (1871–1949)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Date of access June 20, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=EA0X.

Riley, Sabrina (2021, April 28). Rees, David Dee (1871–1949). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 20, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=EA0X.