By Tom Lambeth
In recent days, much attention has been given to the untimely death 75 years ago of Zachary Smith Reynolds, the younger son of R.J. and Katharine Smith Reynolds.
The elements of mystery and of tragedy stir the imagination. Two motion pictures, in highly fictionalized scenarios, have exploited that event in July 1932. In my high-school days, we listened to a popular song, “Written on the Wind,” that captured the background score of a movie by the same name, unaware of the history shrouded in its melody. That summer night has produced more than half a dozen books - some novels, some the work of reporters seeking to unravel the tangled threads.
While the details of Smith Reynolds’ death will forever mystify and provoke lively conjecture, to let his story stop with that kind of exercise would be to miss another story - of the daring of a young man and of a remarkable philanthropic tradition and legacy that grew out of his family’s response to his passing.