Remembering Leaders
in the Field of Blindness and Visual Impairment

JoLeta M. Reynolds

JoLeta M. Reynolds

REYNOLDS, JoLeta M. - Rock Island, TN resident and Warren County native. JoLeta M. Reynolds, age 67, was born October 17, 1942 and died April 16, 2010 at her residence following a seven-year illness. 

An administrator with the United States Department of Education and member of the Church of God Seventh Day, she was the daughter of Willburn McDowell of Rock Island, TN and the late Maggie Bottoms McDowell.  In addition to her mother, she was preceded in death by one brother, Willburn Jerry McDowell.  She earned the professional degrees of Bachelor of Science from Middle Tennessee State University, Master of Arts and Education Specialist from Tennessee Technological University and Doctor of Education from Memphis State University.  She began her professional career in 1966 in the Warren County School System where she served as a teacher and administrator.  In 1976, she accepted employment with the Tennessee State Department of Education where she served as Director of Compensatory Education; Executive Director, Tennessee State Board of Education; and Assistant Commissioner of Education, Division of Special Education Programs, including the State's Special Schools. 

In 1989, she began a career with the U. S. Department of Education where she served in several key positions, including serving as an advisor to many assistant secretaries.  She played a major role in the construction of the implementing regulations of the 1997 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. She developed, consulted, and provided training on national policies to legislators, advocates, state directors, administrators, teachers, and parents.  She worked tirelessly to improve programs and services for children with disabilities and their families. 

For her work, she received many national awards including the CHADD Public Policy Award, NASDSE Martha J. Fields Award of Excellence, and the Mountain Plains Resource Center Lifetime Achievement Award.  In addition, The JoLeta Reynolds Service to Special Education Award is presented annually to individuals who demonstrate dedication, excellence and integrity in serving students with disabilities and their families, or who support those serving this exceptional population by LRP Publications. 

She was married August 30, 1963 to Ronnie Lee Reynolds of Rock Island, TN.  In addition to her husband, she is survived by one son and daughter-in-law, Clark Reynolds and Daphne Humphries of Harvest, AL;  two sisters and brothers-in-law, Joyce and Paul Dunlap of Rock Island, TN and Jimmie and Kenneth Pell of Sylvania, AL;  numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces and a great-nephew. 

Funeral service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, April 18, 2010 in High's Chapel with Paul Dunlap and Robert Coulter officiating.  Burial will follow in the New Union Cemetery.  Visitation will be held from 4:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. Saturday and 10:00 a.m. until time of service Sunday at High's.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Warren County Relay For Life c/o High's Inc.