December 29 - Santa Cruz Sentinel: Maggie Reynolds, peace activist

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Maggie Reynolds, peace activist, 78

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Maggie Reynolds, peace activist, 78*

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Maggie Reynolds, peace activist, 78

By JEANENE HARLICK Sentinel staff writer

Maggie Reynolds probably would have preferred this space be used to laud nonviolence rather than herself.

Though Reynolds had much to be proud of, she was not one to dwell on her accomplishments.

"She pushed herself so hard," daughter Julie Reynolds said. "She never sat down and said, ‘Oh, that was a great thing I did!’ She said, ‘Why didn’t I do more?’"

A passionate activist who fought for nonviolence, the homeless and free speech, Maggie Reynolds died Sunday of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She was 78.

From childhood on, Reynolds’ hero was Eleanor Roosevelt, and she dedicated her life toward emulating the famous first lady’s advocacy for the downtrodden, Julie Reynolds said. Along the way, she impacted the Santa Cruz community in significant ways.

Arriving in Santa Cruz in the early 1970s, she and husband Vernon Reynolds spent their first years here as co-directors of the Quaker Center in Ben Lomond. When Vernon died in 1980, Reynolds spent two years in Thailand with the Peace Corps, marking her 60th birthday there. Reynolds returned home only more devoted to fighting for peace, especially in the area of nuclear disarmament, said Santa Cruz City Councilman Scott Kennedy, a friend.

"She was a long-distance runner in the peace movement," he said. "She wasn’t the type of person to sit around and talk about issues. She wanted to do something."

A tireless protester at local malls, Reynolds was frequently arrested for her efforts. Even her twilight years found Reynolds outside Capitola Mall, passing out leaflets and urging customers to boycott war toys. She was an ardent anti- handgun activist.

"She was always getting arrested for some protest or another," Julie Reynolds said. "It was like, ‘OK, who’s going to go pick up mom today?’"

A former board member and volunteer for the Resource Center for Nonviolence in Santa Cruz, Reynolds helped find the Alliance for Children, which seeks to ensure children’s rights are considered in setting public policy. Among other things, Reynolds fought to reduce bus fares for youth. She also started the "Coats for Kids" drive, which collects clothing for homeless children.

Reynolds was born in Flat Creek, Ky. Before coming to Santa Cruz, she worked as a journalist for years. A piece for a travel magazine once got her banned from a country. When she wrote a critical cover story about the Bahamas, contrasting British colonists’ lavish lifestyle with the natives’ poverty, the government invited her never to return.

In her later years, Reynolds wrote guest columns for the Santa Cruz Sentinel; her writing also appeared in the Independent School Bulletin, Friends Journal, and other national publications.

Recently, she designed the annual poster commemorating those who died from handguns in Santa Cruz County. She also helped organize a Watsonville counterpart to the "Million Mom March," and was active with the United Farm Workers union.

"I think she was really an inspiration for a lot of people," Kennedy said. "I feel very privileged and blessed to have known somebody of her caliber."

Contact Jeanene Harlick at

Maggie Reynolds

BORN: April 29, 1923, in Flat Creek, Ky.

DIED: Dec. 23, 2001, in Santa Cruz.

EDUCATION: Master’s degree in English and education, Beaver College, Philadelphia; bachelor’s in humanities, Long Island University, New York.

OCCUPATION: Journalist, teacher.

SURVIVORS: Sons Chris Reynolds of Massachusetts, John Reynolds of Santa Cruz, and daughter Julie Reynolds of Santa Cruz.

SERVICES: 1 p.m. Jan. 5, at the new Quaker meeting house, 225 Rooney St., Santa Cruz.

CONTRIBUTIONS: Preferred to the Quaker Building Fund, 225 Rooney St., Santa Cruz, 95065; or the Resource Center for Nonviolence, 515 Broadway, Santa Cruz, CA 95060.

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