Co-workers recall Falls fire victim

NEWTON FALLS — Co-workers of the woman who died Sunday in a Newton Falls house fire said the death of Kelly Reese will leave a void.

Workers, still shocked by the death, gathered Tuesday inside the Newton Falls Shop ‘n Save grocery store, where Reese, 42, had worked for the last year and a half, to recall the good qualities of their friend and co-worker.

“She was fun to work with,” said store deli manager Anna Orleans. “We’re a small group back here, and I always said that we were a team back here because there were only a few of us.”

Orleans described Reese as a hard worker on whom she always could count — and someone who did her work cheerfully.

Orleans recalled Reese always was singing along to the songs that played at the store.

“She liked her music — she was a rock ‘n roller,” Orleans said.

In the summer she would come to work with her car windows down, music blaring, said Orleans, recalling that Reese would use the music to get ready to work.

“She would be like ‘I got that song in my head, let’s go’,” Orleans said.

Reese, in fact, had just wrapped up her shift at work Sunday when she had lain down for a nap in an upstairs bedroom before the fire broke out, according to a man who identified himself as Reese’s brother Monday afternoon.

The man said Reese’s boyfriend, her son and his girlfriend also had been inside the house at 339 Oak Knoll St., but had been able to escape. He said Reese had finished work about 4:30 p.m. Firefighters were called to the home about an hour later, just before 5:30 p.m., to find the fire contained to the front of the two-story structure, according to a fire report. Wires were also reported down at the front of the residence.

The fatal blaze remains under investigation by the state fire marshal.

The Trumbull County coroner also is investigating, and an autopsy is scheduled for today.

At Shop ‘n Save Tuesday, co-worker Brandi Hays recalled how good Reese was at encouraging others and making them feel better on bad days.

“When times were tough and things were chaotic, I’d be in the back doing stuff, but then hearing her sing the songs, I would always crack a smile back there,” said Hays. “She lifted the mood.”