Nilza Reynolds

Nilza de Mattos Reynolds, 77, died Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, at home. She was the widow of Jasper A. Reynolds Jr. A native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, she was the oldest surviving of nine children born to the late Jose Bernardo de Mattos, a businessman and public official. Her mother, Maria Vidal de Mattos, died when she was a child. Mrs. Reynolds graduated in 1957 from the American Institute of Lins and in 1961 from the University of Sao Paulo, where she studied foreign languages. As a young schoolteacher with a spirit of adventure, she came to this country in 1966 to teach in the Peace Corps, settling in her husbands hometown of Chattanooga after their marriage in 1969. While raising a family she was active in education, serving as a substitute teacher and arts aide in the City schools, teaching Portuguese for the Adult Education Council, and co-organizing UTCs citywide 1979 Brazilian International Festival. After earning a computer science degree from Chattanooga State Technical Community College in 1986, she served a number of small engineering firms. Following her husbands death in 2000, she dedicated herself to serving "my kids" in the remote rural town of Cristalandia, Brazil. She spent weeks at a time living among the people-tutoring orphans, organizing after-school programs and coaching overwhelmed educators. For more than 40 years, Mrs. Reynolds was a communicant of St. Pauls Episcopal Church, where she helped to maintain the archive room named for her husband. Survivors include two sons and a daughter-in-law, Jasper III, Catherine and Joseph; and two grandchildren, William and Elizabeth, all of Chattanooga. She is also survived by a sister, Nadir de Matos; brother, Jose Bernardo de Mattos Jr.; and stepmother, Antonia de Mattos, all of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Services will be at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. The Rev. Suzanne Smitherman, The Rev. Donald Fishburne and The Rev. Andy Olivo. Burial will follow in Chattanooga National Cemetery. Visitation will be from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. today at the church. Memorial contributions may be made to the charity of choice. Share your memories, stories and photos at Arrangements are by Wann Funeral Home & Cremation Center, at the foot of historic Lookout Mountain, St. Elmo, 423-821-7551.

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