David R. Currie
A Rancher's Rumblings
June 5, 2007

Dr. Herbert H. Reynolds died on Friday, May 25, 2007. Over 1,300 people attended a celebration of his life at First Baptist Church, Waco, last Wednesday. It was a wonderful tribute to his life, highlighted by his three children speaking about their father; and Paul Powell talking about all that Dr. Reynolds meant to Baylor University and all true Baptists.

Sitting between Loretta and my son Lance, I listened, feeling very much like a family member, because that is how I felt about Dr. Reynolds—he was another father to me. I hope that doesn’t bother Kevin, Kent, and Rhonda, but I sort of feel like a stepbrother to them because of all that Dr. Reynolds and I have shared these past 20 years. I sense that they understand.

In his eulogy, Paul Powell said that someone had described Dr. Reynolds as “pure courage and pure class.” That is how I had described Dr. Reynolds in my statement to the Baptist Standard, and I was honored that he quoted me in his eulogy, for I meant it with all my heart, and I believe it.

I learned my motto—“Leadership Solves Everything”—from Dr. Reynolds. I don’t recall him ever saying those exact words, but he lived them in front of me. Dr. Reynolds modeled courage for me over and over and over. He never doubted that he had to stand up to radical fundamentalism because it was the right thing to do. He did what he thought he had to do to protect Baylor, and then—rather than walk away from the fight—he led the fight to save Texas Baptists as well. He was part of the “trinity”—along with Phil Strickland and John Baugh—who led all of the work that TBC did over the years. I now feel very alone, having lost all three of them and Foy Valentine in just over a year.

Dr. Reynolds also modeled, for me, pure class and integrity in all that he did. I am a little rough around the edges—as you readers know—and, to be honest, I think he got a kick out of it sometimes; but Dr. Reynolds was always Mr. Perfect in my eyes. He handled every situation calmly, coolly, with charm and class. I marveled at his fortitude and how he treated everyone with respect and dignity in the most difficult of circumstances.

Many will write about all that Dr. Reynolds did for Baylor and Texas Baptists. The fact is that the New Baptist Covenant meeting, to be held in Atlanta next January 30 through February 1, is the result of Dr. Reynolds’ vision for broader cooperation between Baptists. He is, and always will be, a Baptist legend.


But I want my tribute to be more personal, because he was so personal with me through the years. What I will most remember about Dr. Reynolds is his friendship, his faith in me, his encouragement of me.

As Loretta and I drove into Waco Tuesday evening, I began thinking of the times that we met in Waco together, just the two of us: in his offices on campus and at the Robinson Tower, at the IHOP, at El Chico’s. I thought of all the times that he got football tickets for my boys and me. I remembered meeting him and Mr. Baugh on Monday morning of the convention in Waco in 1991, and how they both thought that we would lose that critical vote, and the joy of pulling out my vote count and telling them that we had 5,700 votes!!!

I thought of quickly called meetings at Love Field or DFW when he and Mr. Baugh decided that a critical situation needed a face-to-face discussion. Phil would often be there with us, too.

I thought of a few times when I wondered whether Dr. Reynolds was right about something, only to find out every time that he was always right on target. After the funeral, Joel Gregory told me that he wished that he could tell Dr. Reynolds, “you know, you were right all the time, you were always right.”

I thought about how I called him from a hotel room at George Bush Airport in Houston on the morning of 9-11, and he urged me to drive my rental car home to San Angelo so that I could be with my family. Then he talked to me several times on the drive to San Angelo.

I recall him asking the TBC Board to give me a substantial raise when both Lance and Chad were in college. And he did everything possible to help both boys get into Baylor and be successful. Lance went to Debate Week in the summer at Baylor (he later won State) and is now in law school; Chad went to football camp, and he’s now a coach. Dr. Reynolds influenced all of that and would ask about the boys during every conversation.


Either he or Phil Strickland (Dan Martin was also a great help for several years) edited most of my writings through the years, and I will never forget a not-too-long-ago conversation over the phone after he edited one of my articles, when he commented, “David, that Ph.D. must be in agriculture or something, it sure wasn’t in English.”

I also remember when we accidentally edited a few lines of one of the articles that he wrote for us (I won’t reveal the culprit, but it was not me), and oh mercy, did I get an earful! I wanted to hang up and disappear off the face of the earth. He was classy as always, but I certainly knew that a huge mistake had been made. More than anything, I hated that I had let him down and had—even unintentionally—failed to show him the respect to which he was entitled. He gave respect to everyone and made you want to please him, or at least he made me feel that way.

I smile as I remember how much he helped me after I had prostate cancer. He called and checked on me often, and gave me all kinds of good advice and encouragement. More than once, he told me that sleep was important and that he had found that going to bed at 11 p.m. and getting up at 6 a.m. worked well for him. I think he liked helping me continue to grow up, so to speak. We discussed very intimate details and always talked openly. He was a great inspiration to me at all times.

Dr. Herbert H. Reynolds was a wonderful, tremendous leader. He set an example for me of courage and class that I will never forget and could never live up to. He had no fear. He was witty and wise, calm and committed, bold and decisive. I can truthfully say that I have never known anyone else quite like him. He was a great Baptist, as well as a great husband and father.

But what I miss the most is his friendship. He was my friend. It was an honor for a regular guy like me to know such a great man as my friend. It made me feel very special. I hope that he and Mr. Baugh, and Phil and Foy are telling stories on me now together. I hope that they are smiling as I am remembering them and feeling very grateful that they were part of my life.