December 12, 2020
Sisters Fern and Bernice Young decided to go for an evening out to the Odessa Street Fair back in the early 1940’s. While there Fern caught the eye of a handsome young man, John Reynolds. And so began the lifetime journey they continue to share. Their official journey began on December 12, 1940.
John was born on May 16, 1922 in Lowry City, Missouri and his family later moved to Mayview, Missouri. Fern was born on a small farm south of Odessa on January 13, 1924.
Days before their first anniversary, Pearl Harbor was bombed, and like so many other young families, the projection of their lives was impacted in a large way. The young couple had moved to Colorado and was expecting their first child. James Ronald Reynolds was born in early March, 1943. However, God had another path for this sweet angel, and he was returned to heaven on April 16, 1943. This was a devastating blow to the young couple, although they knew a reunion was promised through the love of Christ.
That same year John enlisted in the Army. He went to basic training in Texas and was assigned to the First Cavalry Division. He was transferred to California and then sent to Manila in the Philippines in December, 1944. John had earned the rank of Tech5 and was also awarded a Purple Heart during his service in the Philippines. The war in Europe ended on May 7, 1945 when Germany surrendered to Soviet troops. In the summer of 1945, John was headed to Japan when the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945.
During John’s tenure of military service, Fern was also doing her part for her country. She went to work for North American in 1943 in the Kansas City plant. She was employed as a “Rosie the Riveter” and was involved in the production of the B-25 bomber. She continued in this role until August, 1945.
The young couple returned to civilian life and John began work for Benson Manufacturing Company. He left Benson to begin employment with Winn-Center Construction, one of the companies selected to build the Kansas City Veteran’s Administration Hospital. John suffered a heat stroke during this tenure, and Fern stepped up to help support the family during this difficult period.
They bought a small plot in Independence, Missouri and lived in a “chicken house” while John worked on building their first permanent home together. John shared a memory of his neighbor’s rooster coming into their new home through an open basement door. The rooster made his way into their bedroom and flew to the top of their dresser. He saw himself in the mirror and had quite the fight, leaving terrible scratches in Fern’s beautiful dresser.
Also during this time, their second son, Gary Lynn Reynolds was born on August 3, 1951. They were beyond thrilled to have another opportunity at parenthood. Fern served as a Boy Scout troop leader for many years.
Because of the aftereffects of John’s heatstroke, Fern went to work for Bendix Corporation (now Honeywell) in 1952. John later became a member of Carpenter Union #61 and worked as a self-employed carpenter. He also worked for Water District #13 in Blue Springs Missouri for 30 years. He retired from both careers in 1985. Fern retired in January, 1987 after 35 years of service.
Their daughter, Linda Reynolds, was born July 28, 1953. She had an intense love of horses, and John found her a $50 deal, that included, horse, saddle, bridle, the works. There was an older gentleman that lived across the street from them in Independence, and John had Linda go to him to negotiate a deal on pasture for her new horse, Babe. With a twinkle in his eye, the neighbor drove a hard bargain, and charged Linda $1 a month to rent his pasture.
They lived in Independence until 1964. They found a 20 acre farm south of Blue Springs, Missouri where they made their home(s) until 2018.
Their son, Gary joined the Navy in November, 1971. In 1973 he earned Sailor of the Month. He was honorably discharged in August, 1975.
He married Vicki White on July 11, 1981. They gave Fern and John three grandchildren, Ami, Scott and Courtney.
Their daughter, Linda married Dennis Secrist on May 15, 1972. They moved to California for one year, and then returned to set up a permanent home in Pleasant Hill, Missouri in 1979. They gave Fern and John four grandchildren, Stephen, Brian, Justin and Amber. John and Fern now have 13 great grandchildren and they now reside in Pleasant Hill Missouri in a cute two-bedroom house owned by their oldest grandson, Stephen Secrist.
One of the most special attributes of this couple is their love for others. Their home through the years had an “open door” policy. If any of their many nieces or nephews needed refuge or support, they were welcomed into John and Fern’s home. Three of their nephews lost their mom when their ages were 2 years, 18 months and a six week old baby. The baby was adopted by a close family friend. The older two boys spent many months and years living with Aunt Fern and Uncle John.
As another example of their kindness, there was a time when they were saving for new carpeting. One of Fern’s brothers needed a loan, and without a second thought he was given what was needed and the carpeting was put on hold.
They spent much of their time during retirement preparing meals for the homeless, as well as collecting food and clothing for families in need. They supported an initiative every fall to provide warm clothing for an Indian tribe in South Dakota. When their daughter signed them up for Meals on Wheels in Pleasant Hill John was 95 and Fern was 93. Fern’s first question was “Do you think we’re old enough to receive this assistance?” If they were able to get around better, they would be preparing and delivering meals themselves.