Donald Edward Reynders, passed away the evening of Friday, April 30 after a long illness. Don was born on August 19, 1924 in Lancaster, NY, son of Magdalena and Edward Reynders and raised in Depew, NY. He graduated from St. Mary’s High School where he played on the varsity basketball team. At the age of 19, Don enlisted in the US Navy and served on the escort carrier, the USS Gambier Bay. The crew and ship first saw battle off the coast of Saipan on June, 17, 1944. On October 24, 1944, the ship was sunk in Leyte Gulf. Don and the other survivors were in the water for 42 hours waiting for rescue.
Don met his future wife, Clara at a dance in Buffalo, New York. They were married in San Juan, Puerto Rico on July 31, 1947. Because of his training in meteorology while in the navy, Don was selected to open and manage a weather bureau on St. Croix, V.I. Daughter, Rosanne was born on May 2, 1948 and Marilyn on September 6, 1950. The family returned to the mainland US when Don was assigned to the weather station in Charlotte, NC. A promotion brought him to the weather bureau in Raleigh, NC in 1954. The family joined Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church and Don became very involved in parish activities eventually becoming a sacristan.
Don retired in 1980 and began swimming in the Raleigh Area Masters swim club, taught introduction to the computer at the Senior Net Center and attended the annual gatherings of the USS Gambier Bay survivors.
Don is survived by his daughter Marilyn Vail of Selma, NC; grandson Albert Jesse Vail IV and fiancé Jamie Crisifulli of Wilmington, NC; brothers James and Hank (Marcia) Reynders, sister Mary Ann and sister-in-law, Luanne Reynders. He was predeceased by his wife, Clara of 61 years, daughter Rosanne, brothers Harold, Eugene, Edward and sisters Arlene and Donna.
Visitation will be at Brown-Wynne Funeral Home on Friday, May 8, from 6 to 8 p.m. and at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on Saturday, May 9, from 10 to 11 a.m. followed by a funeral mass at 11 a.m.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.brownwynne.com