James Reynolds

Obituary of James Holbrook Reynolds

James Holbrook “Jim” Reynolds passed away on March 13, 2024, at Panorama in Lacey, Washington. Born October 6, 1924, he grew up in Aberdeen, Washington, and graduated from Weatherwax High School in 1942.


Following a short time at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, he joined the U.S. Army in 1943 and saw combat duty as an infantryman in the European Theater of Operations. He was taken prisoner of war during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, and endured captivity at Stammlager XIII-C, Hammelburg, Bavaria, Germany. Liberated in late April 1945, and following his December 1945 Army discharge, he returned to the U.S.A. and re-enrolled at Whitman College, graduating in the Class of 1950 with a bachelor’s degree in business. Like so many of his generation, he almost never spoke of his wartime experience.


Moving back to his hometown of Aberdeen, he found employment at the West Coast Plywood Company, and on January 26, 1952, married Elizabeth Ann “Betty Ann” (Hoagland) Hansen. That union included two young children, Ann Elizabeth and Richard VanFleet. Jim and Betty Ann added daughters Barbara Lee, Susan Allyn, and Nancy Jane. In 1963, he went to work as a data manager for Mayr Brothers Logging Company in Hoquiam, Washington, working there until his 1986 retirement.


After Betty Ann passed away in June 1967, he wed Elsie Lane Barr a year later. Elsie’s son Eric Werner and daughter Sally Lane joined the family. Sharing a strong interest in historic homes and antique furnishings, Jim and Elsie in 1972 purchased the Lytle House, one of two large Victorian mansions in Hoquiam, Washington. Filling it with period furniture and other collections, they opened the home as a bed and breakfast, and enjoyed many years delivering hospitality to guests from the world over. That warm hospitality—highlighted by spectacular buttermilk hotcake breakfasts—earned the Lytle House a top rating in a popular guide to the best places on the West Coast and a tribute in the Los Angeles Times.


Following several years living in Holiday Valley near Olympia, Washington, in 1997 they moved into a custom home built on the site of a small rustic family cabin on the shore of Puget Sound’s Youngs Cove. Twenty years of quiet waterfront living followed, with all the blessings of family, neighbors and other friends, gardening, woodworking projects, and much more.


An injury sustained in an unfortunate 2017 mishap resulted in a move to Panorama, where Elsie, after 53 years together, passed away in December 2019. Over his years at Panorama, Jim Reynolds won the universal affection and respect of staff and fellow residents alike.


First and foremost, Jim Reynolds was a good husband and father. He was also a friend to most everyone he encountered, and was considered a “doer.” He reveled in his large family and was a dedicated keeper of the rich history of the Reynolds and Kirkman families, from the earliest days of their role in the Washington Territory.  There was almost no project he would not undertake, from home maintenance and repair, to handmade children’s toys that could be found under the Christmas tree, to production of small watercraft that saw duty on Youngs Cove. A stream of intricate cabinetry, gorgeous model boats, yard benches and much more flowed from his workshop, nearly always as gifts to family and friends. His well-developed sense of humor and quick wit were ever present, and he laughed loudly and often. He reliably dispatched birthday and Valentines Day cards, always signing “Love, DA.”


His quiet humility masked an intense pride in his large family, but he simply never spoke a word of his own accomplishments. The phrase “I did that” was just not in his vocabulary. His passing leaves a vast empty space in the many hearts that his life touched. He is survived by his children and extended family, Ann Reynolds, Dick (Joani) Reynolds, Barb (Jim) Dickinson, Susan (Dean) Hartman, Nancy (Paul) Hoffman, and Sally (Stephen) Riddle. Twelve grandchildren and fifteen great grandchildren are his legacy and hope for the future.


In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to Thurston County Food Bank, Union Gospel Mission, or Salvation Army.


At a private ceremony, his ashes will be committed to the waters of Young’s Cove, along with those of his beloved wife Elsie and son Eric.


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