West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

Ode to Reynolds Cheney

We were enjoying dinner and “adult beverages” last night at the Hotel Montana when Jennifer, our SVC development coordinator, handed me her phone to show me the announcement of the death of Reynolds Cheney 

It hit me like a stone thrown from a window. I didn’t see it coming and had to leave the table in stunned silence

Reynolds was a friend to me just like so many others.  

I first got to know him after he “retired” from Holy Communion and came to help at St Mary’s Cathedral. I sought his company because he was funny and friendly and welcomed everyone into his special universe.  A universe that included every member of the clergy and most of the Episcopalians in Tennessee AND Mississippi, as well as much of the rest of the country.  A story for everyone.  Who their mama was, where they were baptized and confirmed and who was the Bishop then. 

He also included the children of St Vincent’s in his expansive universe. After most trips to Haiti I would pay a visit to Reynolds, show him photos and tell him their names and their stories.  I learned that he started a summer camp for Handicapped children in Mississippi years ago.  He wrote a big check every year to support our ministry in Haiti. 

Last week I called Reynolds to check on him after I heard his name on our prayer list.  We agreed I could come see him in a few days.  The day came and went and I was busy with trip preparations 

Our first night in Haiti, Sunday July 9, I woke up with a start, thinking, “I forgot to visit Reynolds!!”  

Now he is gone. He has left behind a very big hole in my heart. His universe has expanded to all the company of heaven. 

I have told my friends here in Haiti that one of their advocates is gone.  Père FanFan says that when someone dies,  a part of the earth is gone. Like a torn piece of fabric 

God be with you till we meet again;

By his counsels guide, uphold you;

With his sheep securely fold you.

God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,

Till we meet at Jesus’ feet,

Till we meet, till we meet,

God be with you till we meet again.


Susan Nelson

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