This longtime Pasco High principal finally gets his name on a school

After numerous nominations, Ray Reynolds’ name will finally be on a Pasco school.

Pasco School Board members approved naming the middle school after the longtime district employee Tuesday night. He was on the list with fallen Washington State Patrol Trooper James Saunders, 4-H and FFA leader Willetta Mae Burns, labor leader Cesar Chavez and Juniper.

The five names were picked from a list of candidates submitted by the public.

“I really liked the names that were presented,” board Director Aaron Richardson said. “(Ray Reynolds) has a lot of ties to Pasco and Pasco High, served in the military and came back and worked in our community for a very long time.”

Ray Reynolds

Reynolds initial experience with Pasco High ended with him being run off in 1945. He told the Herald in 1999 he didn’t like being bullied by older students and he was big enough to stand up for himself and quick enough to get away.

He moved to Idaho, where he was drafted into the Army shortly before the Korean War. He rose to the rank of second lieutenant. When he returned from his military service, he went from academic probation to honor roll at the University of Montana, he told the Herald shortly before he retired.

He later joined the Army Reserves, where he eventually attained the rank of major general.

When he returned to the school district in 1968, he taught philosophy and western civilization. He moved into a vice principal position in 1972, and became principal in 1982.

Ray Reynolds memorial
Greg Franklin, a riding partner of Ray Reynolds, leads Reynolds’ favorite horse Rabbit as Danny Boy is sung during a memorial service at Edgar Brown Stadium in 2000. File Tri-City Herald

He led the school for 14 years, until he needed back surgery. While he was eligible for retirement, the then superintendent asked him to stay on for at least two years.

He was laughing and retelling stories with friends during a visit to the high school the next year in the moments before he died in 2000. His funeral brought hundreds of mourners to Edgar Brown Memorial Stadium.

Even before his death, Reynolds’ name has been in discussion for a school name, including a push to name what became Chiawana High after him.

Pasco district officials are breaking ground on both Reynolds Middle School and Columbia River Elementary on May 23. The two schools are planned for 9011 Burns Road. They are expected to open in the 2020-21 school year.

Cameron Probert covers breaking news and education for the Tri-City Herald, where he tries to answer readers’ questions about why police officers and firefighters are in your neighborhood. He studied communications at Washington State University.