Those who knew Jance Reynolds, who died in a fire at his Daleford Road home Tuesday, say that his church and his community has lost one of its pillars.
Pastor Larry Green from Cleveland Height's Cedar Hill Baptist Church, where the Reynolds family has worshipped since 2000 and where Jance Reynolds was a deacon, called him a dear friend and a great leader.
“He was a great, godly man, and a great example as a husband and father,” said Green. “Everybody loved him and he loved everybody.”
He added that Reynolds gave his own life saving his family.
There were seven people in the home at the time of the fire: Jance and his daughter Mary Paige, who died; and Jance’s wife, two younger daughters, and niece and nephew, who were all still being treated at the hospital Wednesday.
“Mary Paige — what a wonderful heart she had,” said Green. “She loved music, loved to sing, and loved her mom and dad.”
Green, as well as many church members, have spent night and day with the family as they grapple with this loss.
How to Help the Reynolds Family
Mark Lowery is one member who has spent the last two days supporting the family. “They have just been surrounded by people at this point. It’s a work in progress,” he said.
Lowery served as a deacon with Reynolds for several years.
"You will not meet anyone who knows Jance who will not describe him as a brother," said Lowery. "He had a unique ability to love people in all walks of life."
Reynolds led the youth group at Cedar Hill for several years, including while Lowery’s oldest son was a member. “I think sometimes he had more contact with my oldest son* than I did,” Lowery laughed.
Reynolds held bible studies and youth group gatherings at his Shelburne Road home, where the family lived until October of this year.
The family's Shelburne neighbor Bob Brown said Mary Paige would often play with his kids.
"I think I remember this little girl who was kind of in a world of her own and yet she was always out when the kids were playing," said Brown.
Brown, who has lived in his Shelburne home since before the Reynolds moved there, called Jance a good dad.
"I think [Jance and his wife] were both very kind people and they were very loving. Jance loved his family and loved his children, and I think, like many parents of children with special needs, he loved Mary Paige in a very special way."
Lowery added that Reynolds, who grew up near Chicago, lost his mother when he was young, and men in his community stepped up to support him. Reynolds cited that as his reason for supporting the youth at Cedar Hill.
He is called Uncle Jance and described as a second father by many young men in the church.
“He was just someone that they all felt that they could go to and they could talk to about anything,” said Lowery. “Not that he was going to tell them what they wanted to hear, but he just had that kind of welcoming, nonjudgemental, nothing-will-shock-me kind of thing.”
But he wasn’t just a friend. “He had a serious element, as far as desiring them to follow the scripture and God,” said Green. “He has such a vibrant relationship with them as far as their lives and fellowship.”
Reynolds lived and studied in places all over the world, Lowery said.
He was a jewelry manager at Beachwood Place Mall’s Saks Fifth Avenue and appeared on WKYC’s Good Morning Cleveland in March to promote a new product line.
Before Saks, Reynolds was a personal shopper.
*Editor's Note: This quote originally said that Jance contacted Lowery's son on Facebook, but Lowery said he misspoke and we changed it at his request.
Share your own memories of Jance and Mary Paige Reynolds in the comments.