John Raynolds ’51 (1929-2011)

A Bicentennial Medalist Remembers Williams in His Estate Plans

John RaynoldsFresh from Williams, John Raynolds ’51 served in the KoreanWar as a diver in the Navy Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) that was the first to develop a system for delivering UDT swimmers from a fast-moving helicopter—an operation that led to the development of the famous U.S. Navy SEALs. That transforming experience, and a lifelong devotion to mountaineering and backpacking, developed in John a passion for experiential education— learning by doing. For 10 years he served as president and CEO of Outward Bound U.S.A., which under his leadership more than quadrupled its students per year and launched programs for urban populations and public schools. John’s efforts gave rise to what is now an entire industry of outdoor education, helping students of all ages to develop character, self-confidence, and a sense of service.

The author of two books on volunteer service—The Halo Effect and Beyond Success: How Volunteer Service Can Help You Begin Making a Life Instead of Just a Living (the latter co-written with his late wife Eleanor)—John has served as trustee of A Better Chance and the National Peace Garden Foundation and on the advisory board of Harvard’s J.F.K. School of Government. Always one to practice what he preaches, John has taken more than 40 Outward Bound trips of his own and has run six New York City Marathons with disabled runners.

For these and other life accomplishments,Williams awarded John Raynolds a 2009 Bicentennial Medal—the College’s highest honor for distinguished achievement. “Williams to me has been a life-long gift,” he said (in remarks that can be viewed on video at John added that at Williams “we’re steeped in the tradition of helping others.” By including Williams in his own estate plans, John is continuing that tradition by helping future generations of Williams students.