Capacity crowd honors Norman Reynolds

By Carol Kinsley
A fund-raising event held by the Friends of the Bridgeville Library on Friday, Feb. 20, was sold out, with the Bridgeville Banquet Center, offered free of charge by Jimmy's Grille, filled to capacity by members of the community as well as state, county and local officials and representatives of the Delaware Division of Libraries. The event was staged not only to raise money for the construction of the new library but to honor Norman Rey-nolds, an English teacher at Bridgeville, then Woodbridge High School from 1953 until his retirement in 1988. Reynolds, a graduate of University of Delaware and Duke University, married Miss Lou Brock, music teacher for the school district in 1955. They have three children – Lynn Parks, Ellen Mulshnock and Matthew Reynolds – and five grandchildren. According to a Senate Tribute presented that night, since his retirement Reynolds has continued to enrich the lives of area citizens through dramatic readings at various community events, including many class reunions celebrations. "He is credited by many of his former students with helping them achieve success in college by preparing them so well in reading, writing and critical thinking, and by holding them to a high standard of achievement. He is also remembered for helping many students overcome difficult challenges. Over the years, he has had a positive influence on many hundreds of students and area citizens." One of those students, John M. Custer, now a two-star general living in Arizona, was on hand to pay tribute to Reynolds and to celebrate the impact the Bridgeville Library made on his life. Custer shared phrases from emails to him from fellow students. One said because of Reynolds he'd never once felt inadequate meeting with people in high office. Another said the background Reynolds gave him in English and writing was "the basis for every success I've had in the business world." Another said Reynolds had taught "life, not just English" in his classroom. Custer said Reynolds had been his teacher in 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th and 12th grade. "What I gleaned from Mr. Reynolds allowed me to lead a different kind of life," he said, adding he had experienced broader horizons and had a wider perspective because of his education.

"We left as much better people, in every case," he continued. "What we gained is something you cannot put a price on. It's like the library... The library allowed us a different perspective on the world. And Mr. Reynolds pushed us by setting the bar so high." Another student, Karen Kalinevitch, who serves on an accreditation board, said, "I've sat in on many English classes and I have not seen anyone who brought to the classroom what Mr. Reynolds did. He knew so much about everything that he could put us there. He made us work hard to be the best that we could be." Reynolds expressed appreciation to the late Barbara Short and to his wife, Lou. "No other person here would put up with as many books as I have," he said. His personal book collection numbers more than 10,000. Noting that he had made sure everyone, no matter what section they were in, had a six-week dose of Shakespeare, Reynolds entertained those present by reading a few of his favorite selections. He estimated later that 170 former students were among those present, some of whom had come quite a distance. "I was very much honored they all came. I was glad to see them all," he said. Ruth Skala, town commissioner who spearheaded the fund-raiser in 2008 and again this year, said the ticket sales and auctions had brought in $25,000 for the library's capital campaign. "We're still a few hundred thousand dollars short," she added, noting the Friends of the Bridgeville Library would like to see the facility open this summer debt-free. She said forms are available at the library to donate a book in honor or memory of someone special. Contributions may be sent to Bridgeville Public Library Capital Campaign, 210 Market Street, Bridgeville, DE 19973.

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