Charles McKinley Reynolds, Jr.

Sunrise: January 11, 1937

Sunset: December 26, 2020


Charles McKinley Reynolds, Jr., was born on January 11, 1937, in Thomasville, Georgia, the firstborn child of Johnnie Mae and Charles McKinley Reynolds, Sr. He joined a loving and industrious household in Albany, Georgia, where his father was a prosperous insurance executive, with the historic North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, one of the country’s largest and most successful Black enterprises, and a future Baptist minister; and his mother was a popular and respected home economics teacher, admired for both her beauty and intelligence. Charles’ youth was a carefree era of learning, travel, and friendship, supported and protected by Albany’s close-knit and attentive African American community. In addition to his adoring parents, he enjoyed the affections and protections of nearby grandparents. He visited them often – the formidable Collin James Reynolds of Baconton, Georgia, a revered Baptist minister, Republican Party official, and prominent businessman; and Bertha Mae and John Preston Hadley of Thomasville, Georgia, his mother’s parents, who taught him to hunt and fish, in the riverside woodlands of southwest Georgia. During Charles’ pre-school years, “Mama Hadley” spent her weekdays in Albany caring for him, returning home to Thomasville on weekends. He was a popular student athlete, excelling in both football and track, and maintained respectable grades, even while holding a series of part-time jobs – something he did, not out of economic necessity, but because his parents insisted that their son be industrious and self-propelled. It was a lesson that took hold early in Charles’ life, and remained a guidepost throughout his life.

In 1955, Charles was admitted as a freshman at Morehouse College with an eye on a degree in business. The next year, however, he married his high school sweetheart, Estella Henry, and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. This took him to assignments in Biloxi, Mississippi; Antigo, Wisconsin, where their first son, Eric Charles Reynolds, was born; Marietta, Georgia; and the Thunder Bay District of Ontario, Canada, where Charles was among the first African Americans to be trained in the Air Early Warning and Control system, as part of the nation’s Air Defense Command. After his honorable discharge, Charles returned to Atlanta and Morehouse College to complete his degree. He subsequently completed programs in business administration at Atlanta University and in mortuary science at Wayne State University in Detroit. Returning to Albany, Charles became, like his mother and paternal stepgrandmother, an educator. At the all-Black Southwest Junior High School, he taught social studies, and coached football, all while operating his own doughnut shop, and working part-time at a local funeral home. One day, his former Morehouse professor, recalling Charles’ acumen for high finance, noted that the U.S. Treasury Department was seeking applicants for federal bank examiner positions. He, therefore, recommended Charles and another Morehouse graduate as candidates. Forewarned that the entry requirements were exacting, Charles was intrigued by the challenge. His classmate did not make the cut, but Charles passed the qualifying examination handily, and in 1965 became the first African American assistant national bank examiner, in the South. That experience and the network he developed in the process put him on the map as a savvy operator in the financial world. Charles was named president of Citizens Bank and Trust in Atlanta, at the young age of thirty-five. He was treasurer of Maynard Jackson’s successful and  history-making bid for mayor of Atlanta. He served on the board of MARTA, the Atlanta area’s mass transportation system, and was appointed to the Morehouse Board of Trustees.

In 1974, Charles moved to Norfolk, Virginia to become President of the Atlantic National Bank, and promptly restructured the bank’s faltering lending programs, expanded its portfolio and grew deposits. While President of the National Bankers Association, he also held leadership positions with the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, the Urban League, and the Norfolk Convention and Visitors Bureau. Imbued with an entrepreneurial spirit, Charles ran several successful businesses, including AM/FM radio stations in Virginia and North Carolina, an equity firm, and real estate developments in Atlanta and Albany. Under the auspices of his company, Reynolds and Associates, Inc., he purchased a Residential Re-Entry Center (RRC/halfway house), in Washington, DC, for formerly incarcerated women, through contracts with the District of Columbia Department of Corrections (DCDC), and the United States Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons(BOP). He would later acquire a co-ed RRC, in Norfolk and another for formerly incarcerated men, in Newport News, Virginia, also contracting with the BOP. In the course of that work, Charles met the woman he once described as “the one who made life worth living.” Like Charles, Reesa Motley McMurtry had been involved in programs to provide former female offenders with the skills, counseling and resources needed to re-enter free society as productive citizens. After years as business associates, Charles and Reesa found their compatibility went beyond business. They married in 2008, which was the start of a happy, rewarding, memorable and proud union.

Despite his unassuming demeanor, Charles’ habit of prodding others toward excellence, coupled with his generous gifts to religious, educational and social justice institutions, brought him a raft of accolades and honors. He endowed scholarships for underserved youth in Harlem and founded a Foundation to provide support and services for former offenders. He provided continuing education for his staff, encouraging them to raise their sights and prepare for better opportunities. He encouraged his executive staff to read over thirty (30) books, in his Visionary Leadership Council (VLC) for professional enrichment. He and Reesa supported the Eureka Baptist Church in southwest Georgia, the boyhood congregation where his father had been Pastor. They returned to the Bank Street Memorial Baptist Church, in Norfolk, Virginia, where Charles had been an active member and former Treasurer, for many years. In October 2020, Charles was honored at Morehouse’s annual Alumni Rite of Passage, the Passing of the Torch. In his speech to the young Morehouse matriculants, he noted that he had undertaken a book project, not to trumpet his accomplishments, but as instruction for success. “I know now that what I leave to posterity must be an accounting of how my life was affected not only by the circumstances of my existence, but by the decisions and choices I made to get to where I am today,” he said. Charles was an esteemed and faithful member of The Guardsmen, the Sigma Pi Phi Boule, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He, also, sat on the board of the NCBA Housing Management Corporation. He enjoyed his summer weeks on Martha’s Vineyard, and extensive world travel with his beloved Reesa. Just days before Christmas 2020, from his hospital bed, in a final act of charity, Charles set in motion the establishment of a specialized division of his foundation, to address a long-unmet need in the African American community. Recognizing that African Americans are often poorly served or marginalized by the medical community, he chose to provide a venue and support for African American physicians and scientists to investigate and develop accessible and affordable pain therapies. His last intellectual energies were concentrated on helping others.

Charles passed away, peacefully, on December 26, 2020, at his home in Naples, Florida, following a brief illness, He had been surrounded at Christmas by his family. He is survived by his adoring wife, best friend, and partner, Reesa Motley Reynolds; son Eric and daughter-in-law Eleanor Reynolds of Mobile, Alabama; son Gregory Reynolds of Florida, his grandsons, Eric Reynolds Jr. (Mary) of California, Evan Charles Reynolds of Mobile, Evan James Batson of Chicago; his granddaughters, Melissa Wilson (Craig) of Texas and Elissa Powe (Shane) of Mobile, Alabama; his great grandchildren Julian, Brendan, Alana, Patrick, Logan, and Juliana; his stepdaughter, Dr. Stacie McMurtry Batson (Walter) of Chicago; his former wife, Estella Henry Reynolds, numerous cousins representing four generations, and innumerable friends, many of them lifelong. A special thank you and acknowledgement to Dr. Yanis Alfonso Fernandez (Naples) and Guilherme Oliveira (Tampa), and his two private duty nurses, Laure Dufort and Fabiola Byron, who gave him the professional attention, special care, love, and time, to plan his earthly departure. He leaves a legacy that honors his credo: Respect, Integrity, Competency, and Excellence – “RICE,” as he fondly called it. “RICE is difficult in the short run,” he said in his last speech at Morehouse. “But if you keep it in the forefront of your life as your guiding light, and if you use it when times get rough, in the long run, you will come out on top. Personal experience allows me to vouch for that.”

Charles’ final request to Reesa, was that she wait until after COVID, to have a Memorial Service and Celebration of His Life. Therefore, on  January 11, 2022, the date of his 85th birthday, his family and friends will remember this humble giant of a man, Charles McKinley Reynolds, Jr., with a great memorial and celebration.

In lieu of flowers, please make all contributions to: The Foundation for Residential and Rehabilitative Services, Inc. c/o Mr. James Lynch, Controller 1430 G Street, NE Washington, DC 20002

No Public Viewing Private Family Service For Live Streaming Purposes Only WATCH SERVICE LIVE ONLINE Monday, January 4, 2021 11:00am Metropolitan Funeral Service Berkley Chapel The family is following the CDC and State of Virginia guidelines for funeral attendance

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  1. reply
    Tim Moorstein says

    My heart goes out to the whole Reynolds family which I know includes his work family as well. Great men are not forgotten, the lessons, the positivity that Charles gave off was infectious. He’s smiling down on everyone.

  2. reply
    Wilbert James Jr says

    My most sincere Condolences are extended to the entire Reynolds family. As a fairly recent resident of Naples Florida, I had the pleasure of working on a Committee with Brother Reynolds recently on a Foundation for Sigma Pi Phi. Ironically Norfolk Virginia is my hometown and we had great discussions about his time there. I wish we had crossed paths when I worked at the Chamber of Commerce while a student at ODU. Brother Reynolds was a kind spirit and very generous with his knowledge. He will surely be missed by many

  3. reply
    Deborah Mathis says

    Charles left behind a wonderful legacy and a wonderful family. He departed in peace and deservedly so. He had lived a full and rewarding life, crowned by generous giving and caring to others.
    May his memory be a blessing and an inspiration.

  4. reply
    Ronald Filler says

    Our deepest sympathy and prayers for the entire Reynolds family. We sure will miss this wonderful person and dear friend.

  5. reply
    Rochelle A Toyer says

    My deepest sympathy to the entire family. Mr. Reynolds will certainly be missed. He gave his all to create a better life for so many. We honor him for a job well done! I know God is pleased and has given him his wings. Family be comforted in knowing you shall see him again!! In the mean time I pray that God will strengthen and comfort you! God bless and keep you!!

  6. reply
    Estherine J. Harding says

    Heartfelt sympathy and prayers to the family of Mr. Reynolds. I remember him in the days when the Atlantic National Bank was in existence in Norfolk. May God bless you and grant strength for the journey as your loved one transitions into heaven.

    Estherine J. Harding, NSU Alum and Retiree

    • reply

      We will never forgot how you helped us out when we needed it.
      We will always thank you for this.
      Peace be with you.
      Faye and Karl Lemon

  7. reply
    Marty & Janis Komsa TE Neighbors says

    What a beautiful obituary. Although we were only acquaintances and met briefly we instantly knew you were both wonderful, kind and compassionate people. Our deepest condolences Reesa and family and may your life memories bring a smile to your face.

  8. reply
    Bridget Freeman says

    It was with deep sorrow that I recently learned of the passing of Mr. Charles Reynolds Jr.

    While I know that mere words cannot console you Ms. Motley, I wanted you to know that I am here for you, if you need anything at all. I’ll be in touch.

    I will always hold the memory of Mr. Reynolds and his guidance to succeed in life. Thank you

    With deepest sympathy,

  9. reply
    BK and Jackie Fulton says

    Charles was a giant among men. We are thankful that his light touched ours. Reesa, you and Charles were equally yoked. On many occasions he told us how he prayed for a good woman and that God sent you. He shared that he was so grateful and that his life improved with great joy all the days you were by his side. Thank you for sharing him with us. Jackie and I would not be where we are without your support. You know Charles was like a Father to us. The bond was strong and deep. Now you carry his light forward. May God continue to bless you and protect you with good health, especially in this time of the loss of our great friend and loved one. We are with you. We love you.

    Wishing All That is Good,

    BK and Jackie

  10. reply
    Lakisha Harrington says

    I have only knew you for a short period but the conversational chats and word of wisdom that we had left an impact on my life. My prayers go out to the family in this time of mourning, he is at peace and with God now.

    Wishing strength and peace

    Lakisha Harrington

  11. reply
    James & Sandra Brookins says

    Our deepest and sincerest condolences to the family for your lost. Charles was a gentle soul and he is now home with his Father. May the Lord’s peace and understanding comfort you during your time of grief.

  12. reply
    Steven & Vada Love says

    We send our deepest sympathies to you, Reesa, and your entire Reynolds family, and that you will find comfort in the Lord and the knowledge that Charles is in His heavenly place. We will miss Charles’ friendship and his fellowship; the fun times; and, the knowledge that he gave us based on his life experiences. May the Lord bless you and always keep you in His arms. We love you.

    Steve, Vada, and Jane

  13. reply
    Lorraine Maynard says

    My deepest sympathies to Reesa, Denise and the family. May the peace and tranquility of our LORD JESUS CHRIST pour a blanket of comfort upon the family. The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.


  14. reply
    James Conley says

    I knew Charles for about 15 years. After reading about his life and accomplishments, this man should be the example and role model for every person that strives for success. Saluer Charles! (Salute in French) You will always be an honorable man.


  15. reply
    Glenn Tunstull says

    In this moment of deepest sadness for us all, our hearts are with you, Reesa and family, as we honor the beauty of Charles. His warmth, love and generosity of spirit has filled us all with his grace. Though there is a loss of having him with us, we are filled with the very knowledge and spirit of Charles. We are all especially honored to know the distinguished man that we celebrate today.

    He will be missed…….
    With love, Glenn and Joe

  16. reply
    Gwendolyn Cowart Watson says

    Reesa Reynolds and Family,

    Words cannot express the sadness and loss that I feel from the passing of Charles. Please know that I love you and that my prayers and thoughts are with you.

    Gwendolyn Cowart Watson

  17. reply
    Deborah Gilliam says

    Our family has lost another stable pillar. Charles M Reynolds will be missed. We continue to mourn this break in our family chain

  18. reply
    Daryl Watson says

    Dear Reesa Reynolds and Family,

    I feel a great pain in my heart today, but also gladness that Elder Charles stands with the ancestors in the holy light of God. I send you my deepest condolences and well wishes. May you all be blessed and may God’s Spirit grant you peace during this time.

    Much love to you all,

    Daryl Watson

  19. reply
    Felicia Murphy-Phillips says

    Reesa M. Reynolds & Family,

    May the Lord continue to bless you, comfort you and keep you. Treasure the wonderful memories that you have of your beloved husband, father, grandfather, and more. He was more than anyone could have expected in one giant of a man – full of kindness, love, integrity wisdom, generosity and so much more.

    Reesa, the two of you formed a great union of love, compatibility, business acumen, mentorship, empowerment, and a spirit of giving to others. Keep that spirit within you to uplift your husband’s legacy.

    Praise the Lord!!!
    Felicia Murphy-Phillips & Family

  20. reply
    Jimmie and Lucy Wilson says

    My condolences to the Reynolds family. I have known Charles for a number of years and served with him on various boards. He was a fine person and great work with. May God bless his family.

  21. reply
    Guilherme Oliveira says

    Despite our brief acquaintance, close to the end of his earthly journey, Charles left an indelible impression on me. I am saddened to see him go so soon after we had just met. My sincerest condolences to Reesa, Eric and the entire family. I wish I could have done more.

  22. reply
    Metale says

    Zaczynamy zyc, kiedy przestajemy sie bac zycia. – Dorothy Thompson

  23. reply
    Pianino Tapety says

    To jest prawdziwa przyjazń – oslaniac innych nawet kosztem siebie. Prymas Stefan Wyszyński…

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