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Joe Reynolds, WWII vet & SBC leader, dies

HOUSTON (BP)–Joe H. Reynolds, a World War II veteran who fought at the battle of Iwo Jima and who went on to serve as Texas assistant attorney general and in several roles within the Southern Baptist Convention, died Dec. 18 of natural causes. He was 88.

Reynolds grew up in Tyler, Texas, and enlisted in the Marine Corps following the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was seriously wounded in 1945 at the battle of Iwo Jima — he received a Purple Heart — and he witnessed the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi, a significant moment in U.S. history that became a famous photograph and a memorial in Washington D.C. He also served during the 1950s in the Korean War, when he fought at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. He suffered severe frostbite during the battle and was hospitalized for months.

“He was a true American hero,” Joe Jamail, a friend of Reynolds, told the Houston Chronicle. “A hero in World War II and again in Korea. He was lucky to have his feet left after all he went through.”

He graduated from Baylor Law School and served as a trial attorney within the Texas attorney general’s office, opposing Thurgood Marshall in one case. He later served in private firms. The State Bar of Texas named him a “Texas Legal Legend.”

A member of Second Baptist Church in Houston — where he taught a Sunday School class and began every lesson by quoting Romans 1:17 — Reynolds was long-time parliamentarian at SBC annual meetings, having last served in that role in 2002. He was a Southern Baptist Executive Committee member during the 1990s and earlier this decade served on a committee that recommended the SBC withdraw from the Baptist World Alliance.

“He was a leader in every way in the convention,” Reynolds’ friend, Paul Pressler, said.

Reynolds also served as a regent at Texas A&M University. A medical building on campus is named in his honor.

Reynolds is survived by his wife, Sue Stamper Reynolds. They were married for 61 years. He is also survived by two sons, Hunt Reynolds and Dan Reynolds, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will take place at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Second Baptist Church. Contributions in memory of Reynolds may be made to Boys and Girls Country of Houston, 18806 Roberts Rd., Hockley, Texas, 77447.
Compiled by Michael Foust, assistant editor of Baptist Press.

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