Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com
GRAVENHURST — Jim Reynolds’ 50-year drive to serve the community was recognized yesterday with dozens of surprise messages in stay-at-home celebration.
Complete with honking horns.
Instead of their weekly noon Zoom meeting, Rotarians delivered their longest serving member a drive-by salute.
Rotary has been doing its good deeds in Gravenhurst for 83 years — sine 1937.
And Reynolds has had a helping hand in hundreds of club projects for 50 of those years.
On Monday Nov. 23, more than two dozen cars, trucks and SUVs paraded through town, down main street to his Hotchkiss Street home — tooting horns and trumpeting his ‘Service Above Self.’
The 81-year-old retired dentist who moved to town in 1966 actually surpassed the half-century mark in April, but the club was unable to celebrate at that time due to COVID restrictions.
So the club could wait no longer and decided to surprise him with a home drive-by of close to 30 cars, many decorated with signs and balloons.
Reynolds’ wife, Dorothy, hinted that they may have company and got her husband outside just as the parade pulled up at their front door.
“I was just going to make a cheese sandwich for lunch,” he said with a laugh.
When he stepped out it wasn’t Santa and his reindeer he saw and heard — no surprise after last week it sounded like that when a tree came down on their roof during the recent wind storm.
Led by president Pat Bongers’ pickup — with Mark Clairmont standing in back leading the “Charge!” and heralding their arrival, a steady stream of well-wishers — some 50 club members, past Rotarians and friends — paused their vehicles long enough to each offer a brief shout-out to the popular pipe-smoking, bespectacled community booster.
Even the neighbours like Maggie Keats — who couldn’t miss the commotion — came out to join in the festive occasion and offer best wishes.
After cramming the old snow dump cul de sac into an impromptu parking lot, the cheering crowd of spaced-out admirers applauded as Bongers presented Reynolds with his second Paul Harris award sapphire pin.
Jim Goodwin, a fellow Rotarian and also a retired doctor — who himself will celebrate 50 years with the club next November — presented his medical namesake a personal, framed letter from the president of Rotary International, Holger Knaack.
Reynolds had his dental practice here for 40 years before retiring in 2004. He has two boys, Mike and Brian, and four grandchildren in town.
Reynolds has also been active with the Trinity United Church for his five decades in town, being on their board and singing in the choir.
In Rotary he twice served as president, chaired the District Youth Exchange for four his 10 years on that committee; served as local youth chair for 20 years and the Reynolds hosted 12 international students as part of the Rotary Exchange program.
He notes, with a chuckle, that this was all in the days of “snail mail” when correspondence and arrangements were much more challenging.
“It was a labour of love.”
In his brief remarks of acceptance after receiving — compliments of Denise and John Cooper — Reynolds said he has “enjoyed” his time in Rotary helping and meeting so many “nice people and making so many good friends.”
And doing his small part “to help Rotary make Gravenhurst a better place.”
“Everybody was so great” — then and now.
He called the drive-by “an overwhelming hour.”
“I don’t know how Dorothy kept it a secret for eight months,” he said over the phone while getting time this noon hour for a cucumber sandwich.
And while he had his cake, he said he’d hadn’t had a bite yet — “but Dorothy has.”
Reynolds started out with the Kinsmen Club, but then Gordon Sloan invited him to join Rotary when they used to meet above Sloans’ Restaurant.
In the intervening years the club has met all over town.
Of the many Rotary memories Reynolds has are those involving the Gravenhurst Winter Carnival when they ran the “Grotto” in the Albion Hotel, where “we drank more wine than we sold.”
And “freezing” during the Easter Seals Snow-a-rama, which raised a lot of money for the club and was a major fundraiser for the provincial agency.
“The Rotary Club of Gravenhurst and all of our community are fortunate to have such a dedicated and hardworking member in our midst,” said club member Kathryn McGill.
“Thank you, Jim, for your long-standing Service Above Self.’
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