Remembering Erwood Reynolds

Erwood Reynolds August 27th, 1931 to March 30th, 2023

In his 92nd year, surrounded by the love of Wendy, Sean, and Micheal and in the compassionate care of Providence Manor, Erwood – the strong, handsome, gregarious, hard-working, fun-loving, community-minded, stubborn, even-tempered (haha!) clothes horse – died on March 30th, 2023. He put up a real fight but, in the end, took a sudden breath and was gone.

Erwood has been reunited with his beloved wife of 70 years, Rowena (2022). He was also predeceased by his daughter Denise (2021). He was a devoted father to Wendy and her husband, Sean, who provided boundless care to Erwood in his last years. He will be always missed by grandchildren Micheal, Dustin, and Laura, who regarded him as a father. Erwood is the last man standing among his siblings, Elwood, Garth, Bruce, and Marilyn, and his parents Olive (Bartsch) and Harold. He is survived by his adored sister-in-law, Jean Clair, and much-loved brother-in-law, Mel Martin, in addition to many nieces and nephews, cousins (especially Glen Convery and those Snider girls!), and So. Many. Friends. 

Born in Oak Flats (and we’ll give you a lollipop if you know where that is. Hint: it’s north of Buzztown) on August 27th, 1931, Erwood grew up on the family farm with his wonderful parents, one older and two younger brothers, and his beloved sister. Ever wonder where that name came from? As the second child, younger brother to Elwood, his parents turned to Harold’s parents to name the little baby. The grandparents thought it would be cute to have a name that rhymed with Elwood. So Erwood it was. Oddly, there weren’t ever nicknames like Woody that evolved. Sure, there were misspellings (Irwood or Derwood), and Rowena sometimes called him “Erd.” As Rowena was fond of saying, there was no mistaking who Erwood and Rowena were, for they were the only ones in the world. That’s for sure.

Erwood’s formal education was cut short by WWII and he left school in Grade 10 to help out on the farm. But he did not let a lack of education hold him back from being successful. And he worked hard. Erwood worked for “the Locomotive” (Canadian Locomotive Company), erected the hydro lines in the early 1950’s that brought power to the Ottawa Valley community he called home fifty years later, was a highly skilled auto body mechanic in Kingston and Verona, and began his own construction company in Napanee and later in Griffith/Matawatchan. Really, he never truly retired; well into his ‘80’s, he was still answering the calls of frantic neighbours in cottages with leaky pipes or holes chewed by wildlife that needed fixing.

By the 1950’s, Erwood turned into a handsome young buck who one summer evening almost literally ran into Rowena, herself a glamourous young woman parading the streets of Buzztown (ok, Verona), when he was driving around in his car. He whistled at her. They married in July of 1952. Wendy was born in 1953. (The math checks out.) Their house in Hartington was full of family – Rowena’s parents, Bruce and Marilyn, nieces and nephews, cousins to keep Wendy company, later on the Hatfield kids, Cindy, Steve, and Jeff, who were like his own. Denise joined the family in 1971, a couple of years after the move to Napanee. When her children, Micheal, Laura, and Dustin, arrived on the scene, Erwood and Rowena devoted themselves to their care, with Micheal, and Dustin especially, living with them full-time. Erwood delighted in showing the ropes to his grandchildren, whether building things or fishing or riding four wheelers through the woods.

Always involved in activities to help others in their community, Erwood was a strong guiding light in several different Lions Clubs, ending by establishing (with support from Rowena’s creative energy) the club in Griffith. He was a District Governor in the late ‘80’s and with Rowena travelled extensively throughout North America and internationally for Lions conventions and activities. And no matter what the local Club was doing, he did it – fundraising, bartending (he loved that), rounding up new members – he was constantly working to contribute to his community with the Lions.

Erwood also was a dedicated member of the United Church wherever they lived. He was a steward of the church, which meant he assisted in financial matters. And he washed a lot of dishes and carved a lot of turkey at community dinners in Matawatchan.

We’ll always remember the other things Erwood loved, especially the outdoorsy things: camping before we all had cottages; teaching (or trying to teach) family and friends to waterski; in a boat, fishing; grilling big steaks on the barbeque; skidooing (before we all wore helmets – yikes!); hunting at the family hunting camp; feeding his birds at his many bird feeders, even in the dead of winter when he was in his late ‘80’s and had very limited mobility. He was a guy who was always on the move and who never stopped until the last couple of years of his life.

Indoors, Erwood loved to read newspapers and watch the news on TV. He did crossword puzzles and Sudokus (in pen!) every morning. Oh yes, and watching his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs and Blue Jays baseball with Dustin. 

And Erwood loved having people around. Need a rum and coke, a funny story, a game of cards? Stop in anytime to see Erwood. And he didn’t want you to leave. “Oh come on, stay a little longer” he’d say. 

He had the famous Reynolds stubbornness and temper (known in the family as “getting your Reynolds up”) but he was also kind and generous. If Wendy or one of the grandchildren wanted something, they got it. Erwood loved to dress up and to buy clothes for Rowena. The two of them were the most dapper couple around. Haircuts were regularly scheduled, and he spent twice as long in the bathroom grooming as any of the rest of us. Rowena would say “get in the bathroom before he does because he’ll never come out.” He always looked great.

A lifelong joiner, he continued that impulse in Providence Manor. Erwood became a true member of their wonderful community. If you couldn’t find him in his room, he was in the auditorium listening to music or in the sunroom making crafts or watching a movie or doing chair exercises. He engaged in any and all recreational activities and social events on offer. He was even a resident member of the Food and Activities Committee. He was well-loved by staff and residents with whom he loved to kibbitz and joke. We cannot thank all the staff enough, but especially those on Sydenham 5 who looked after him with love, empathy, humour, and professionalism.

In keeping with Erwood’s wishes cremation has taken place. A celebration of his life will be held at the James Reid Funeral Home, 1900 John Counter Blvd., (entering from the rear parking lot doors) on Saturday, April 15, 2023 from 3:00 – 5:00 pm, with sharing of memories at 3:30 pm. Donations may be made to CHEO or the charity of your choice in Erwood’s memory for those who wish.

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