Our Laguna: A fete fit for the Woman of the Year

June 24, 2010|Barbara Diamond

In a room filled with women who have left their mark on Laguna, none were more worthy of being honored by the Laguna Beach Woman's Club than Carol Reynolds.

Reynolds was named the club's 2010 Woman of the Year for her exceptional contributions to the arts, particularly music, the children of Laguna and the advancement of women.

As former club President Lee Winocur Field said, "Carol is in tune with the community."

Tributes were paid by representatives of the American Assn. of University Women, the Sister Cities Association of Laguna, Laguna Beach Live!, the Philharmonic Symphony Guild and the Youth Shelter — all of which Reynolds served on as a board member — the Laguna Beach Community Concert Band, the Arts Commission and the city.


But the most touching tributes were paid her daughter, Patti Jo Kiraly, and longtime friends.

Speaking for herself and her sister, Susie Bringhurst, Kiraly recalled a childhood filled with music by her single working mother.

"In 1962, my sister and I were the only children [in their acquaintance] of divorced parents, but we always had music," Kiraly said. "It healed us, entertained us and challenged us."

Music was central to the relationship between daughters and mother.

Reynolds taught choir for 35 years, seven classes a day, each with 50 students.

After school, the girls did their homework while Reynolds taught private piano lessons.

"She made it clear that we had to be musical," Kiraly said.

Both daughters played instruments — that would be plural. Bringhurst is a gifted pianist, but Kiraly prefers singing.

"She was not a stay-at-home Mom then," Kiraly said. "She is not a stay-at-home Mom now."

Besides her gift for music, Reynolds has the gift of friendship.

"I moved to Laguna Beach 13 years before my mother did," Kiraly said. "In one year, she had more friends than I did."

Mayor Elizabeth Pearson, who presented Reynolds with a city proclamation honoring her achievements, counts Reynolds as a friend she can call on.

"Whenever I get down in the dumps, she sits me down at the piano and I sing old Baptist hymns," Pearson said. "She has cheered me up many times."

Mayor Pro Tem Toni Iseman called Reynolds the Joan Rivers of Laguna.

"You never know what is going to come out of her mouth," Iseman said.

Reynolds not only makes friends, she keeps them.

Jean Paris met Reynolds in 1958 when their husbands were teaching together. They are still close, even though Paris once talked Reynolds into joining a gourmet club.

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