Deceased July 29, 2012
Our last class link to World War II has passed away. Chuck Reynolds—the oldest of three World War II veterans in the Class of 1953—died July 29, 2012, in Pasadena, Calif., from complications of pancreatic cancer, less than eight months after losing his wife, Betty. A memorial service on Sept. 9, 2012, gathered more than 60 relatives, friends and neighbors—plus business associates from Chuck’s successful 30-year career in the paper industry.
Born and raised in Springfield, Mass., Chuck loved his Amherst experience, highlighted by marriage to Betty after junior year and their subsequent purchase of a 50-foot house trailer to live in until graduation. That “home” was parked in a former asparagus garden in South Amherst, rented for the then-outrageous price of $12 per month.
Mindful of a long conversation with Chuck in 2010, I sense three clear traits that help capsulize his persona and his life. He was first and foremost a people person.Notes Bob Sullivan of Los Angeles, a kind of nephew-in-chief, “Chuck loved to interact with and help people. He always stayed in touch, a great conversationalist, an avid reader, a mentor to many people throughout his life.”
Secondly, he was a great storyteller and spinner of anecdotes. Like recounting his experience as a Sea Bee in the U.S. Navy, helping build airfields in the Pacific—including the field on Tinian that launched the Enola Gay. Or describing the rousing crowd and police escort, sending Chuck and Betty after graduation on a slow, six-week crawl to California to start a new life, trailer in tow, passing only one vehicle along the way, a horse and buggy.
And thirdly, Chuck was a health and fitness buff all his life. In fact, he was clearly the inspiration for Amherst’s first health and fitness program, still going strong after all these years. A fitting legacy, you could say.
Philip W. Ransom Jr. ’53