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'I love this community'

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Jerry Reynolds is named Outstanding Citizen

By Stevie Lowery

Editor's note: This is the second story in a series about the Marion County Chamber of Commerce's 2010 Outstanding award winners.

Jerry Reynolds was awarded for being an "Outstanding Citizen" recently, but he may be more well-known for his notorious pecan pies.

What's his secret?

Well, it depends.

If you're talking about the secret recipe for his pecan pies, there isn't one.

But, if you're wondering how he's managed to be such an outstanding citizen, spending so much of his time volunteering, it's simple.

"I love this community," Reynolds said.

Reynolds, who was born and raised in Marion County, began volunteering in 1957 as a Little League baseball coach. He was 15 years old.

He coached Little League for many years after that - 29 to be exact. In fact, his spirit of volunteerism stayed with him even when he and his family moved to Florida briefly, and he continued to coach a Little League team there. But, after seven years in the Sunshine State, Reynolds and his family moved back to Marion County. Soon after moving back, Reynolds got a job with Ford Motor Company and commuted five days a week to and from work. He did that for 31 years and still managed to coach baseball, volunteer for the sports programs at Marion County High School, be a very active member of the Knights of Columbus, St. Augustine Catholic Church and Lebanon Country Club.

Reynolds organized and served as president of the Marion County High School "3-Point Club," which was a booster club for the boys and girls basketball teams. Reynolds remembers when the booster club raised enough money to buy the high school its first video camera for the basketball teams to use to film games. In addition to leading the booster club, Reynolds has also been the official scorekeeper for the MCHS boys basketball team for more than 25 years. In 2008, Reynolds was elected to the 5th Region Athletic Directors Hall of Fame.

"That was quite an honor," Reynolds said.

And, if his work with high school sports didn't take up enough of his time and energy, Reynolds also served on the Lebanon Country Club board and has organized a very successful Labor Day golf tournament for the past 25 years. He's also been in charge of the country club's Little League golf program.

Reynolds also serves as a Eucharistic minister and a member of the God Squad at St. Augustine Catholic Church.

But, back to those pecan pies. What makes them so darn good?

"Let me tell you a little secret," Reynolds said, laughing. "There is no secret!"

Reynolds said he began making the pecan pies several years ago when the Knights of Columbus began catering the Marion County Chamber of Commerce's annual awards banquet.

"The most I ever made was 55 in one night," Reynolds said.

And Reynolds has been known to cook more than just pies.

During the Marion County Country Ham Days festival, he has fried ham, made coffee and hauled biscuits. This year, when he was supposed to be enjoying the festival with his wife, Linda, he spent an entire Sunday morning cooking apples.

It's just in his nature to help when needed, and with the support of his family, especially his wife, he's been able to do so.

"Hopefully, I'm a better person for all of it," he said.

According to Freddie Leathers, a long-time friend of Reynolds and former Lady Knights head basketball coach, Reynolds has always been one of the first people to volunteer.

"He's just the type of person who digs in and does the work without being asked," Leathers said.

David Winebrenner, Jr. has volunteered with Reynolds for years with the Knights of Columbus. He said Reynolds is always the first to arrive and the last to leave.

"Over the past 10 years, I don't think I have ever heard Jerry say that he couldn't do something, especially for someone less fortunate," Winebrenner said. "Many of us are honored to call Jerry our friend and know that if we ever needed assistance he would be the first to arrive and stay as long as it took to finish the job."

According to J.B. Thomas, some people are just cut out to do the hard work.

"And he's like me. He never would say no," Thomas said.

Chris Hamilton met Reynolds as a child playing Little League baseball, and later coached a Babe Ruth All-Stars team with him, which won the district and area tournaments and went all the way to the state tournament.

"I don't know of any time in the decades that I've known him that he wasn't involved in some kind of good work," Hamilton said. "He's just a pretty darn good guy and easily one of this community's most outstanding citizens."

Editor's note: Reynolds and his wife, Linda, have three children, Keith, Stephanie and Jeri Lynn, as well as four grandchildren.