A little rough on the edges. But sweet.
That’s what David Bittenbender said Wednesday about his friend and employer John McReynolds.
“He was a good dude. Had a big heart,” Bittenbender said.
According to an obituary submitted to Verde Valley Newspapers, Reynolds passed away peacefully at his home on Dec. 5.
Although family has not been available to comment on the passing of the family patriarch, Camp Verdeans have reached out to say how much McReynolds meant to them.
For the past six years, Bittenbender has worked at Babe’s Round-up, the McReynolds family restaurant on Montezuma Castle Highway. Since McReynolds’s passing, Bittenbender said he has “seen a lot of grown men cry.”
About 15 years ago, Jenna Owens met McReynolds and his wife Margaret, known by everyone as Babe.
“Such a civil servant. Always wanted to do what was best for all of the people,” said Owens, who first met McReynolds at Babe’s. “In the restaurant, always visiting and talking with people, keeping in touch with the community. He was such a giving people person. He’d give you the shirt off his back.”
For years, McReynolds was closely connected to the Eureka Ditch, one of six ditches in Camp Verde. He also served on the town’s Public Safety Retirement Board and its Housing Commission.
At the time of his death, McReynolds was also a member of the town’s Board of Adjustments and Appeals.
But McReynolds has been a public servant at least since the town incorporated. He was part of Camp Verde’s first town council, appointed by Wes Mauldin on Dec. 15, 1986.
“His service to his community as a member of the first town council helped jump start the new community into existence,” said Charlie German, Camp Verde’s mayor since 2013. “He didn’t stop with just that involvement, he was constantly keeping tabs on how things were moving at the town level as well as within the county.”
Said German, McReynolds was “an example of what it means to be a valued member of any community.”
“John was devoted to his family and was extremely involved not only with his own children but with children of the community,” German said. “John was a fixture at our local Camp Verde School District. He was one of the greatest cheerleaders for our students. John and his cowboy dinner bell called spectators at the sporting events to even louder cheering to urge our teams onward to victory.”
To Camp Verde Deputy Town Clerk Virginia Jones, McReynolds “is Camp Verde.” To Camp Vere Economic Development Director, McReynolds has been “an institution around here.”
“He served the community. He was well liked and well respected,” Ayers said. “We’re all going to miss him.”
At 11 a.m. Friday, services will be held for John McReynolds at the Camp Verde Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, located at 360 S. 5th Street, with a visitation one hour prior to the service at 10 a.m.
Burial with military honors will follow at Middle Verde Cemetery.
“He will be deeply missed,” Owens said. “There’s another bright star in the sky.”
McReynolds is survived by his wife, two sons, his mother, his sisters and brothers, six grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and many friends.
-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42