William W. Reynolds Jr., 81, an educator and former mayor of Haddonfield known for his wit and deep involvement in civic life, died Monday, Jan. 4, of an intracranial hemorrhage at Cooper University Hospital in Camden.
Mr. Reynolds was a teacher, principal, and an assistant college dean, founded a management consulting firm for nonprofit organizations, and was director of the Center for Management and Entrepreneurship at the Rutgers University School of Business in Camden. He served as mayor from 1973 to 1977, and throughout his life he was a leader in a long list of community organizations.
“He was Mr. Haddonfield,” said Jack Tarditi, who was mayor of the borough from 1981 to 1997. “If he had any detractors, I didn’t know of them — and if I did I would have told them they were wrong.”
Mr. Reynolds was know for his sense of humor, especially the self-deprecating kind. He never pushed his opinion on his children, even when they made mistakes, the family said, though he had wise counsel when asked.
“He never tried to influence our decisions,” James Reynolds said. “He didn’t have a big ego invested in what we did, was not going to live vicariously through us.”
Mr. Reynolds earned a bachelor’s degree from Lafayette College in 1961, a master’s in teaching from Harvard University in 1961, and a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania.
After his doctoral studies, Mr. Reynolds worked as an administrative assistant dean for Penn’s Graduate School of Education and then was the principal of the Bancroft School, a nonprofit provider of education for people with autism and intellectual disabilities, from 1974 to 1978. He founded Reynolds & Schaeffer Associates, a consultancy, and worked in that business for about 20 years.
In 1997, Mr. Reynolds became executive director of the Rutgers center, until retiring in 2010 to take care of his wife, Mollie, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Eventually they moved to the Evergreens in Moorestown. She died in 2019.
It was his wife who ended any possible political career before it took flight. In 1976, Mr. Reynolds ran as a Republican for Camden County freeholder. He was getting no traction and complained about scant news coverage of the race.
“It was suggested to me that the only way to get my name in the paper would be to streak at one of the freeholders meetings,” Mr. Reynolds told The Inquirer. “But with my luck, the headline probably will say: ‘UNIDENTIFIED NUDE MAN AT FREEHOLDERS’ MEETING.’”
After he lost, Mollie Reynolds gave him an ultimatum: me or politics. Mr. Reynolds always said he chose wisely.
He joked that he only became mayor in the first place because people thought they were voting for his dad, the longtime superintendent of Haddonfield schools with the same name.
“Bill was not full of himself at all,” Tarditi said.
While becoming mayor of your hometown would be a resumé highlight for many, Mr. Reynolds’ time in office was a blip compared with his other community service, friends and family said.
He was on the library board for 43 years, a member of the Rotary Club and on the boards of the YMCA and Respond, Inc., a Camden social-services nonprofit. He taught Sunday school at the Haddonfield United Methodist Church for two decades, and in 1983 cofounded the Haddonfield Foundation, which supports a variety of charitable projects in the borough.
In addition to his son, Mr. Reynolds is survived by son William W. Reynolds III; daughter Rebecca Reynolds of Highland Park, N.J.; two brothers, and four grandchildren.