Reece, Louise Goff (1898–1970)

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Reece, Louise Goff (1898–1970)

American congressional representative (May 16, 1961–January 3, 1963). Name variations: Mrs. Carroll Reece. Born Louise Goff in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,

on November 6, 1898; died in Johnson City, Tennessee, on May 14, 1970; daughter of Guy Despard Goff (U.S. senator from West Virginia) and Louise (Van Nortwick) Goff; educated in private schools in Milwaukee and at Miss Spence's School in New York City; married B. Carroll Reece (a 12-term congressional representative from Tennessee), on October 30, 1923 (died 1961); children: Louise Goff Reece (who married George W. Marthens II).

Louise Goff Reece was born on November 6, 1898, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was educated at private schools in Milwaukee and Miss Spence's School in New York City. After marrying Carroll Reece, a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Tennessee, she involved herself with various business activities and campaigned with her husband during his tenure in Congress. When he died in 1961, in the midst of his 12th term in office, she was endorsed by the First District Republican Committee as a candidate for his House seat. Reece won the nomination from the district convention and defeated Democrat William Faw in the special election of May 16, 1961.

While she had not planned to enter politics, it had not been unknown territory even prior to her marriage, for her father Guy Goff had been a U.S. senator representing West Virginia, and her grandfather Nathan Goff had been a senator and representative from the same state. Reece took the oath of office on May 23, 1961. She served on the Public Works Committee, and in that capacity joined with other Republican committee members to warn of the increased federal spending and bureaucracy they predicted would be caused by the Public Works Acceleration and Coordination Act, which they opposed. Representing the interests of the glass industry in her district, she also urged President John F. Kennedy to restore tariff rates on certain glass products. She initiated a special order in honor of the 45th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote. The final vote for ratification, she noted, had been cast by Tennessee.

Reece declined the opportunity to seek a full term in the 1962 elections, saying the district would be better served by a younger representative. After leaving Congress in January 1963, she returned to Tennessee and to her business activities; she was a member of the board of two banks in Tennessee, and also owned and managed Goff Properties in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Reece remained active in the Republican Party on the state and local level, and died in Johnson City, Tennessee, on May 14, 1970.


Office of the Historian. Women in Congress, 1917–1990. Commission on the Bicentenary of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1991.

Jacqueline Mitchell , freelance writer, Detroit, Michigan