For all his many accolades, perhaps the things those who knew Don Reynolds best for will be his love of Hastings, the state of Nebraska, and his fellow man.
Reynolds, 85, a U.S. Army veteran who served during the Berlin Crisis, died June 4 at Bryan West Medical Center in Lincoln. A celebration of his life is set for 3:30-6 p.m. June 10 at Kitty’s Roadhouse, 1400 E. South St.
The husband of Jeanne Reynolds and father of Molly Johnsen and Tom Reynolds, he became a familiar face in the community while executing his duties as president of the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce from 1987-2002.
A community fixture who frequented local sporting events and golf courses, his activism in the community included stints on multiple boards and advisory committees, including Grow Nebraska, Grand Island Council For International Visitors, Goodwill Industries and United Way. A longtime member of First Presbyterian Church in Hastings, he served on the church’s Board of Deacons and stewardship committee.
“He did a lot of good for the community, a genuine good man,” said Dee Haussler, former executive director of the Hastings Economic Development Corp., who worked closely with Reynolds for more than a dozen years in the old office building the chamber and HEDC shared on West Fifth Street in the late 1980s through early 2000s. “Don was one of those guys who was easy to be around. He worked hard in support of the team.
“He never just thought of himself. He was always looking out for the best interests of the people around him. He was very supportive of the community and a good friend.”
USA Softball of Nebraska Commissioner Joe Patterson worked closely with Reynolds while serving as city administrator. The two men collaborated on multiple events, including the annual Cottonwood Festival. Reynolds also assisted Patterson by guiding weekend tours of the Hastings Softball Museum during softball tournament weekends.
“Don was a very positive person and a pleasure to be around,” Patterson said. “He was very committed to the Hastings community and certainly will be missed.
“I saw him as a Steady Eddie. He was always there at events and just really a huge promoter for our community and well respected around the state for his work. His engagement in different things in the community will be missed.”
Former Minden Mayor Roger Jones was president of South Platte United Chambers of Commerce board during Reynolds’ time as chamber president in the 1970s-1990s. In his opinion, few people have worked harder for the betterment of Hastings and state of Nebraska.
“I will always remember him as Mr. Nebraska,” Jones said. “He absolutely loved the state and South Platte region. If there was something that happened that was positive in Hastings and this region, it was probably something he was involved in for sure.
“Don was always willing to pitch in. If he could do anything to promote the state of Nebraska and Hastings to make them better he was right there to do it. He was always promoting.”
Reynolds grew up on a farm near Palmer and graduated from St. Paul High School in 1953. He received a degree in agricultural economics from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln in 1957. He married Jeanne Welsh July 30, 1965.
He came to Hastings from Grand Island where he worked primarily in banking, farm lending and financial services.
Following his time with the Hastings chamber, Reynolds served a stint as executive director of the South Platte United Chambers.
Survivors include Jeanne; daughter Molly and son-in-law Tom Johnsen of Hastings; son Tom of Brooklyn, New York; and one brother, Dale of Gig Harbor, Washington.