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In Memoriam: Henry T. Reynolds

Photo courtesy of UD Archives

Colleagues, students remember talented teacher, political scholar

Henry T. Reynolds, professor emeritus of political science and international relations at the University of Delaware who was known as an inspiring teacher with a passion for American politics, died unexpectedly of a heart attack on June 9, 2019, at his home in Woodbury, Vermont. He was 79.

Dr. Reynolds joined the UD faculty in 1969 as an instructor in political science and was appointed assistant professor in 1971, associate professor in 1974 and full professor in 1978. After retiring in 2003, he was named professor emeritus.

Henry T. Reynolds
Prof. Henry T. Reynolds, photographed at UD during the 1978-79 academic year

He published numerous scholarly articles, books and textbooks and received the University’s Excellence in Teaching Award, as well as many other awards and grants. He mentored undergraduate and graduate students, several of whom became lifelong friends.

Former colleagues remembered Dr. Reynolds for his patience and common sense in advising students, especially those with complicated academic situations, and for his intellectual curiosity, dedication to social justice and deadpan sense of humor. Most of all, they recalled his skill and effectiveness as a teacher.

Janet Johnson, associate professor emerita of political science, who collaborated with Dr. Reynolds on five editions of Political Science Research Methods, said his ability to teach statistics—a required course for graduate students—was appreciated throughout the department.

“As one person is said to have remarked, ‘Prof. Reynolds could teach statistics to a cabbage,’” Johnson said. She noted that, in the days before online course management systems, Dr. Reynolds would often be seen heading to class carrying massive stacks of handouts in order to provide his students with the most up-to-date information.

Joseph Pika, the James R. Soles Professor Emeritus of Political Science, called Dr. Reynolds “a superb teacher and adviser” and “one of the department’s bedrock faculty members, someone who regularly taught several challenging required courses and who had the knack for making them both interesting and relevant for students.”

His classes also inspired students, said James Magee, the Judge Hugh M. Morris Professor Emeritus of Political Science, who described him as “a wonderfully effective teacher … who opened the eyes and piqued the curiosity of undergraduates in his introductory American government course.” Magee’s own son, as a UD student, was particularly impressed with the data Dr. Reynolds presented in class one day about inequality in America.

“From that day forward, my son became an engaged citizen—and still is,” Magee said.

John Doble, a former student who became close friends with Dr. Reynolds, described him as “a great humanist with a relentlessly inquisitive mind.”

“In his later years, he studied—not read, studied—the Bible, Paradise Lost and The Divine Comedy, among other classics, saying these were books he’d never had time for because of his scholarly obligations,” Doble said.

Although Dr. Reynolds worked tirelessly to make the world a better place, Doble said, “He was one of the most reasonable people I’ve ever known, counting among his friends those who did not agree with him at all.”

That trait also made him “a great colleague … who avoided being disagreeable even when he strongly disagreed about something,” Pika said, adding that he “could always be counted on to present the alternative perspective that everyone else was missing.”

Dr. Reynolds was born in Deming, New Mexico, and raised in Denver, Colorado.

After graduating from Dartmouth College, he joined the Peace Corps, where he met his future wife, Elizabeth (Lisa) Betts Reynolds. They were both assigned to Oujda, Morocco, where they taught English to middle school students.

After their Peace Corps service, they married in 1965, and Dr. Reynolds then attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, earning his doctorate in American politics and methodology. He and his wife came to the University of Delaware, where she was an editor at the UD Press and, for several years, coordinator of the University’s Summer College program.

In 2003, they moved to Vermont, where Dr. Reynolds became a regular at the local bookstore and diner.

He was an avid sports fan, Lisa Reynolds said, following the University of North Carolina teams and the ups and downs (mostly downs, she added) of the Baltimore Orioles. While at UD, Pika recalled, Dr. Reynolds played basketball with a noontime group and proclaimed his devotion to the Tar Heels; his office door was decorated with a long list of bumper stickers denouncing the “archenemy,” Duke.

Dr. Reynolds was predeceased by his father, Dr. F. Henry Reynolds, his mother, Mary Elizabeth Caughey Reynolds, and his older brother, Bill.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Lisa; son Alan; daughter-in-law Shannon Borges; daughter Anne Reynolds; son-in-law Matthew Winkler; and grandson Matthew (Chip) Winkler.

Funeral services were private.

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