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Carol Reynolds

April 7, 1935 – June 19, 2022

Carol Reynolds obituary sitting at piano 1

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Courtesy of Patti Jo Kiraly

Carol Reynolds

Carol Reynolds, of Laguna Beach, passed away peacefully on the morning of June 19 with her daughter by her side. 

Carol was born April 7, 1935 in Philadelphia, PA to parents Bob and Emily Cunningham and grew up in Franklin Lakes, NJ. As a child, Carol learned to play the piano and loved it. She later took up the French horn and soon mastered it, winning the award for the best horn player in the State of New Jersey. She played in the NJ Allstate Band and won a scholarship to the Juilliard School of music at the age of 15. She would take the train into New York City to attend classes and then walk through Harlem in hopes of hearing the music coming out of the windows. 

Carol Reynolds obituary playing the horn 2

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Courtesy of Patti Jo Kiraly

Carol Reynolds playing the horn, her passion, in the Laguna Concert Band 

In 1952, Carol was invited to attend The University of Michigan School of Music by the famous conductor, William Revelli. She graduated from U of M in 1956 with a degree in Music Education and received her master’s degree from Cal State Fullerton in 1966.

For 35 years, Carol taught chorus in the Placentia Unified School District at Kraemer Jr. High and Bernardo Yorba Middle School. She taught thousands of kids to sing and to love music. She accompanied the choruses herself using her unique style of standing while playing the piano, pointing to children when it was their turn to sing. 

After school, she taught piano lessons in her home to children in Yorba Linda and Placentia. She had zip and spirit with a keen ear for a wrong note. Sometimes the lessons would go so late that she would have to fix dinner while teaching, but she never skipped a beat, calling out from the kitchen, “Nope, that’s an F sharp!” 

She was voted Outstanding Music Teacher in Orange County in 1995. 

She also took pride in being a negotiator for the Placentia Unified Educators Association, with a passion for ensuring that teachers had good working conditions. She was a fearless fighter for schools and teachers. 

In 1970, during the Cold War, Carol was invited to speak at the International Society of Music Educators Conference in Moscow. The subject of her presentation was Music Education – The Power of Human Values. She was determined to show the international community that schools in the U.S. were educating everyone, not just a select group of students as was so common in other countries.

When Carol retired in 1995, she decided it was time to get back to playing her horn. She had moved to Laguna Beach in 1991 and quickly became friends with two other musicians, Theresa Marino and Bill Nicholls. Together they decided to start the Laguna Concert Band. In the beginning there were just a handful of musicians but in time the band grew to more than 50 members with multiple concerts each year. Carol was president.

Carol Reynolds obituary full concert band 3

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Courtesy of Patti Jo Kiraly

Carol Reynolds (front row center holding the French horn) proudly poses with the Laguna Concert Band

Carol was also involved in many other community groups including The Arts Commission, Laguna Beach Live!, AAUW (she started the annual Women in Leadership Awards), The Woman’s Club (where she was honored as Woman of the Year in 2010), the Youth Shelter, Sister Cities (where she started the Fête de la Musique), The Community Foundation, Arts Alliance and the Philharmonic Society. 

She also sponsored students at the Mariachi School in San Juan Capistrano. After Hurricane Katrina, Carol collected donations of musical instruments from the people she knew in the music business and took them to New Orleans for the kids there who had lost everything. 

Carol was voted Laguna Beach Artist of the Year in 2014 and rode in a float down the center of the town, waving at all her friends, in the Patriots Day Parade. 

She was the fifth-generation owner of her family home in Cape May, NJ, where she spent a lot of time enjoying the beach, entertaining childhood friends and sitting in a rocking chair on the porch, saying hello to everyone who walked by. 

Carol Reynolds obituary Cape May

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Courtesy of Patti Jo Kiraly

Carol Reynolds on the porch of her family home in Cape May, NJ

She attended the Macedonia Baptist Church when in town and was sometimes invited to play the piano for the congregation. She was, of course, trying to get a music festival started. 

And, it’s suspected that Carol is attending every concert now in heaven.

Carol Reynolds obituary with daughter and granddaughter 4

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Courtesy of Patti Jo Kiraly

(L-R) Granddaughter Katie (LBHS 2007), daughter Patti Jo Kiraly and Carol Reynolds

Carol is survived by her children Patti Jo Kiraly and Sue Bringhurst, her five grandchildren, Katie Kiraly, Keaton Kiraly, Jeremy White, Sarah Mills and Amy Bringhurst, and her two great-grandchildren, Gabriela and Daniela White.

A memorial will be held on Friday, Aug. 26 from 1-3 p.m. at the Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach. In lieu of flowers, Carol would love for you to donate to her beloved Laguna Concert Band (


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