Retired Wright-Patt general to receive oldest Dayton- area volunteer leadership recognition

A two-star general in this undated photo, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard V. Reynolds (left) will soon receive the Presidents Club's "Legion of Honor" award for years of work on behalf of local causes. Contributed.
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A two-star general in this undated photo, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard V. Reynolds (left) will soon receive the Presidents Club's "Legion of Honor" award for years of work on behalf of local causes. Contributed.

Lt. Gen. Richard V. “Dick” Reynolds to be honored by Presidents Club of Dayton

Where aviation and education meet, you’ll likely find retired Lt. Gen. Richard V. “Dick” Reynolds.

Reynolds, a stalwart advocate of Air Camp and more than a few other noteworthy causes, will be the 70th recipient of the region’s 2021 Citizen Legion of Honor Award from the Presidents Club of Dayton.

Reynolds confessed that news of the award, which goes to citizens who have demonstrated servant leadership, “was a real surprise.”

Those who know him aren’t surprised.

Phil Parker, retired president of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, calls Reynolds “a fantastic leader-volunteer.”

There has been plenty of local impact from his various endeavors — formative work for Air Camp, support for area Fisher Houses and more.

The former three-star general could likely live just about anywhere. Parker is proud that Reynolds calls the Dayton area home.

“Here’s a guy who has probably lived in a number of bases with his family across the country, maybe he even across the world, but he came to Wright-Patterson ... and decided to stay,” Parker said. “And that’s the thing that strikes me most.”

Reynolds is a good example of a “blue suiter” who fell in love with Dayton, “who decided to stay and gave back even more,” Parker added.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard V. Reynolds. Contributed.
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Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard V. Reynolds. Contributed.

The Presidents Club of Dayton will recognize Reynolds at its annual luncheon starting 10:30 a.m. Oct. 7 at the Dayton Convention Center. Sponsorships and tables are available by contacting Parker at 937-478-3000 or by emailing pparker@dacc.org.

Reynolds retired from 34 years of active-duty Air Force service in the summer of 2005. At the time, there was some uncertainty for he and his wife, Joani. They thought they might return to the Pacific Northwest, where he grew up.

But relationships made the difference — relationships with locals built on the experiences of 9/11, the 2003 flight centennial and more. Their daughters, Brittany and Tori, also settled in the area.

“It became evident very clearly that we were going to spend at least a certain amount of time in Beavercreek, in the Dayton region,” he said.

Reynolds didn’t necessarily have ambitions to become a fundraiser for nonprofit work. He formed his own company (the VanFleet Group, LLC), joined some corporate boards and more.

The initial inspiration was a request from his wife to get involved. It was a new experience. “I never asked anyone for a dollar, so I was a real neophyte.”

He served as a principal fundraiser for the Wright-Patterson Fisher House II and the Dayton VA Medical Center Fisher House.

He is also past president and board chair of the Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc. Reynolds found himself devoting several dozen hours a week to raising funds for the $39 million fourth hangar of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

“It did not come natural,” he recalled. “It’s an acquired skill.” Sitting down with a donor and making one’s case for a donation. At first, it was uncomfortable — until it wasn’t.

Fundraising for Air Camp started in earnest in 2009. Reynolds vividly recalls Amanda Wright Lane, the great grand-niece of the Wright Brothers, at a meeting in April 2008 with fellow Air Camp founders — in which Wright Lane declared: “Let’s do it. Let’s figure out a way to house and feed kids and set up a curriculum.”

“And by god, we did it,” Reynolds said.

Also involved were Dr. Tom Lasley, Dr. Vince Russo, Dan Sadlier and other community partners. The camp launched in 2010, hosting students and teachers from across the nation, imparting the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

The Legion of Honor award, given annually since 1951, is the oldest recognition of volunteer servant leadership in the Dayton region.

“Dick is a tremendous example of what it means to make a true and lasting impact on one’s community,” said Mike Parks, president of the Dayton Foundation. “He is an amazing role model of volunteer dedication, strategic thinking, and enthusiastic leadership. We are so fortunate and pleased to have Dick here in our community.”