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Retired Los Angeles judge launches literacy project

At 92, retired Los Angeles Judge James Reese is determined to help urban boys achieve literacy, with help from USC.

December 17, 2011|Sandy Banks

Reese has a different message. He spent years presiding over divorce cases before "no fault" provisions freed us. "Back then you had to have grounds," he said: Adultery, cruelty, desertion, neglect, habitual intemperance.

"Desi had plenty of grounds," he said, laughing. "But she recognized and put up with them." And when she fell ill and needed years of round-the-clock care, he made sure she had the best of everything.

"I've got your back" is still what matters, he said. "If you know that — and if you mean that — you can forgive and move on."

Now, Reese is no more of a relationship guru than he is an expert in education. But he has a knack for finding common sense in the gobbledygook of problem-solving. And he knows the value of loyalty. That's what fed his marriage, prompted his gift to USC, led him to look out for boys less fortunate than he.

So I couldn't help asking what advice he would give a single middle-aged woman trying her hand in the relationship market.

He leaned back and looked me over.

"Don't tell him your age, honey," he said.

Spoken like a 92-year-old with a lot of living to do.

sandy.banks@latimes.com

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