Life has been a great ride for Reynolds ’58

If twists and turns in the road make a journey interesting, the life of Jon Reynolds ’58 is positively riveting. Some bullet points:

  • Reynolds has in his garage the first car he ever owned: a 1926 Chrysler.
  • He spent nearly four decades with the U.S. Department of Defense dependents’ schools, living in six locations in four countries.
  • He became an education adviser to the Crown Prince of Bahrain, playing a seminal role in modernizing that country’s education system.

Jon Reynolds '59Once he completed his education degree, Reynolds taught for six years in Jesup, Iowa. He then took a job as a residence hall counselor at a school on an air force base in France. “I had seven days on and seven days off, which allowed me to travel all over France and Europe,” he says. “I fell in love with Paris, and that was the start of my overseas adventures.”

After two years he was off to a similar position in Turkey before returning to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Northern Iowa. It was at UNI that he met his wife, Jean. A professor played matchmaker and “we were engaged in 10 days.”

Master’s in hand, he returned to Turkey with a promotion to administrator. Jean joined him just in time for the couple to transfer to schools in Spain, where she served as an elementary teacher. His responsibilities required significant amounts of travel across Europe, to India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Africa. During their years in Spain and later in Bahrain, Reynolds traveled to Saudi Arabia for 25 consecutive years.

In 1983 they moved to Bahrain where Reynolds was a secondary school counselor and, later, in charge of college placements at a progressive U.S. Department of Defense multinational school. Among the students was Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

After completing college abroad, Crown Prince Salman returned and asked Reynolds to sit on a commission to create a merit-based international scholarship program to serve Bahrain nationals. Reynolds proposed a plan to place gifted students in prep schools in the U.S. and the U.K. Salman accepted it, stipulating that the placement opportunities had to be shared equally with males and females across society, and Salman personally provided $3 million to support the program. It has now sent 166 Bahraini students abroad.

In 2004 Jon and Jean returned to the U.S., but not without Salman making Jon an offer that kept him working remotely for nine years.

Back in Iowa, Jon and Jean began expanding their classic car collection, which now numbers seven automobiles. Jean, whom Jon refers to as “the most precious gift of my life,” died in 2012.

And that first car? It’s a beautiful blue touring car and one of only two known to exist. Ask Jon to show you the pictures.