Paul George Reis – devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather; devout Catholic, renowned chemist, world traveler, and man of countless interests – passed away peacefully October 23, 2020, with family at his side. He was 95. His nearly a century of life epitomizes the well-known poem that declares what matters most are not the dates of birth and death, but what one does with the time represented by the “dash” between them.
Paul was born May 3, 1925, in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, to Otto Frank and Evelyn Helen (Walz) Reis. Although his father then worked in Cambridge, Massachusetts, his mother had returned to her family home for the birth. Due to his father’s legal career, the Reis family also lived in Omaha, Milwaukee and Chicago, but spent summers with his mother’s family in Minnesota.
He graduated in 1942 from all-boys St. Mel’s High School in Chicago and after earning a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Northwestern University in 1945, joined E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont). He put his career on hiatus to serve in the United States Army as a chemical engineer and was honorably discharged in January 1947, returning to Northwestern to earn a Master of Science degree.
While working toward a doctorate in chemical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, met Mary Lou “Chickie” Houghton, who became Mrs. Reis on May 2, 1953. Following his 1954 graduation, the newlyweds headed for New Jersey and ultimately settled in Delaware in the brand-new house where they would raise their seven children.
Paul spent over 42 years with DuPont and primarily worked at Edge Moor, Newport, the Experimental Station, and Eastern Laboratory, but frequently traveled to other domestic and international company facilities to consult, assist and problem solve. Passionate about his work, he earned several patents, the final one shared with two sons. By his retirement in November 1993, he was one of the world’s foremost experts in the titanium dioxide manufacturing process. He continued to share his expertise by serving as a consultant well into his retirement years.
Paul was an enthusiastic life-long learner and explored life and the world through studies, books, travel and numerous hobbies well into his later years. He and Mary Lou shared their passion for the outdoors with their children on vacations to countless state and national parks. Paul and Mary Lou also enjoyed traveling as a couple, with a highlight a six-week road trip to Alaska. His foreign travels included Africa, England, Mexico, China and Australia.
He was also a dedicated teacher, both formally and by example, to his children and others. He served as assistant scoutmaster and committee member for Boy Scout Troop 86, as well as the affiliated Explorer Post, and volunteered at Camp Rodney. He enjoyed several years teaching at St. Philomena School, East Fallowfield, Pennsylvania.
Beginning with the first arrival in 1984, Paul relished his role as “grandpa,” and eventually great-grandpa, bestowing love, care, prayers and wisdom on the next generations of Reises. While he continued to grieve Mary Lou’s passing in 2004, Paul remained engaged in life and his family, as well as with St. John the Beloved Parish of which he was a devout and proud member for more than sixty years.
In 2015, he moved to The Summit Residence close to his church, doctors and, most of all, his family.
Paul was proceeded in death by his loving wife Mary Lou Houghton Reis, parents Otto and Evelyn (Walz) Reis; sister Helen (Reis) Shepard, infant brother Joseph Reis, grandson Joseph Reis, son-in-law Barry Zehnder, and niece, Ann (Shepard) Bradham.
He is survived by seven children and their spouses: Robert and Phyllis Reis; Richard and Debra Reis; Catherine “Kitty” and James Coughlan; Michael and DeSales Reis; Elizabeth “Betsy” Zehnder, Thomas “Smiley” and Marybeth Reis, and James and Meegan Reis.
In addition, he is survived by 11 grandchildren and their spouses: Cindy and John Pelet; Debby and Brian Ross; Cathy Reis and partner Dylan Ruggiero; Patty Reis and fiancée Gregory Pearson; Lynn and Ken Bell; Dave Reis, Michael and Melissa Coughlan; Jennie and Nate Griffith; Thomas and Brianna “Breezy” Coughlan, Logan Reis, and Connor Reis.
Paul also leaves behind 13 beloved great-grandchildren: Ethan, Annabelle, Avaleigh, Leah, Lucy, Evelyn, Audrey, Meghan, Matthew, Myles, Ryan, Lillian, and Mckenna.
Also surviving are nieces and nephews Helen “ChiChi” (Shepard) ,Kenneth Reis Shepard, Mary (Shepard) Spaeth, and David Eglin Shepard, as well as many great nieces and nephews. Paul is also survived by his dear friend and companion, Barb Faupel, and his aides from Age Advantage whose unending compassion and care allowed him dignity and independence in his later years.
Due to COVID-19, private family services were held October 30, 2020, at St. John the Beloved Parish. The family requests that memorials be directed to The Ministry of Caring, by visiting https://www.ministryofcaring.org.