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Baylor’s Herbert Reynolds dies at age 77

WACO, Texas (BP)–Herbert Reynolds, president of Baylor University from 1981-95 and an outspoken opponent of conservative theology within the Southern Baptist Convention, died May 25 in Angel Fire, N.M., at the age of 77.

Reynolds’ wife, Joy, told the Waco Herald-Tribune she believed the cause of death was a heart attack, as Reynolds had a history of heart trouble.

In 1990, Reynolds led Baylor, then a Baptist-affiliated university, to cut most of its formal ties with the Baptist General Convention of Texas to keep conservatives at bay if they ever gained control of the state convention. Under a new charter, Baylor’s board of trustees was renamed as a “board of regents,” only one-fourth of whom were selected by the BGCT.

In 1994, Reynolds and Baylor’s regents established the George W. Truett Theological Seminary at the Waco-based university, enrolling 51 students, as an alternative to the Southern Baptist Convention’s seminaries, which had turned toward conservative theology.

Reynolds, while on active duty in the Air Force, initially taught at Baylor from 1956-61 as an assistant professor of aerospace studies and later as a teaching fellow in psychology, during which time he completed a master’s degree in psychology and a doctorate in experimental psychology (neuroscience) and clinical psychology. In 1961, he was assigned to the Aeromedical Research Laboratories at Alamogordo, N.M., as deputy commander and director of research related to the U.S. space program.

After retiring from the Air Force, Reynolds returned to Baylor in 1969 as executive vice president and in 1981 became the university’s 11th president, succeeding Abner McCall.

Various Baylor milestones were cited in news accounts of Reynolds’ death, including $180 million in new and renovated facilities during his presidency, a quadrupling of Baylor’s endowment and his push for Baylor’s place in the Big 12 Conference and for women’s athletics. Baylor today has nearly 14,000 students.

In addition to his wife, Reynolds, a native of Frankston, Texas, is survived by three children, Kevin, Kent and Rhonda, and seven grandchildren.

Funeral services were held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 30, at First Baptist Church in Waco, with burial in Oakwood Cemetery. According to a university news release, “Baylor officials are working with the Reynolds family to finalize plans for a campus-wide celebration of the life and contributions to Baylor University of Dr. Reynolds.” No date has been announced.


Compiled by Art Toalston.

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