Alice Gertrudis King Kleberg Reynolds Meyer, philanthropist, patron of the arts, and civic leader, was born on September 26, 1928, in Corpus Christi, Nueces County, Texas. She was the youngest child of Mary Etta “Mamie” (Searcy) Kleberg and Richard Mifflin Kleberg, Sr., a United States congressman, rancher, and chairman on the board of the King Ranch, and the granddaughter of Robert Justus Kleberg II and Alice Gertrudis King Kleberg. The Klebergs had three other children: Mary Etta, Richard Mifflin, Jr., and Katherine Searcy. Alice Kleberg attended Holton-Arms prep school in Washington, D. C., and Corpus Christi High School, where she participated in athletics, the National Honor Society, and Amistad Tri-Hi-Y, a service and social club. After she graduated from high school in 1945, Kleberg studied physics and geology at the University of Texas at Austin, her parents’ alma mater, and joined the Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority, the Corpus Christi Club, the prestigious academic honor society of Phi Beta Kappa, and Falfa Omicron Omega, a woman’s organization known for its farcical antics.
While attending college, Kleberg maintained her ties to Corpus Christi. In 1947 she presented to Governor Beauford H. Jester a formal invitation to attend the city’s Buccaneer Days festival and received from him an official proclamation to urge “all good Texans” to attend. Kleberg then traveled to Washington, D. C., where she raised a Jolly Roger pirate flag over the Shoreham Hotel and hand-delivered Buccaneer Days invitations and read the proclamation to prominent Texans, including Tom Clark, George Mahon, Chester Nimitz, and Tom Connally. That year she was a debutante in the Girls Cotillion Club and made her formal debut at the Corpus Christi Country Club. Before Alice graduated in August 1949, she married Richard Wells Reynolds in Corpus Christi on April 23, 1949. Reynolds, son of Ed Reynolds, founder of Reynolds-Penland men’s clothing stores in Dallas, was a World War II veteran and managed the Reynolds-Penland store in Austin. The couple lived in Austin and had four children: Katherine “Chula” Berkeley Reynolds, Richard Wells Reynolds, Jr. (who died in infancy), Michael Mifflin Reynolds, and CoYoTe PhoeNix.
As during Alice’s college days, she participated in and took positions within organizations that supported the arts and provided service to her community, especially those that affected her children. Reynolds and her family were active members of Austin’s Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, where she organized fundraising events. Her children attended St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, which opened in Austin in 1952. Reynolds served on the school’s first board of trustees and later held several officer positions, including chair in 1959.
Austin’s artistic community received support from Reynolds on various fronts. One of the first groups she worked with was the Austin chapter of the Texas Fine Arts Association (TFAA). With Peggy Frary and others, she pushed for the chapter to assume full control of the Laguna Gloria Art Museum, which it did in 1961. Laguna Gloria had not had a budget in several years and had fallen in disrepair. Reynolds, then treasurer, oversaw the museum’s strict budget as the Austin TFAA made structural improvements and doubled the group’s membership. She also chaired exhibits, and in 1963 she served as president of the board of directors. She was also president of the Council for Fine Arts, co-founder and later president of the Austin Arts Council, and a board member of the Southwest Texas Educational Television Council (KLRN-TV) (seeTELEVISION) and the Community Advisory Board of the Zachary Scott Theatre Center.
Reynolds also gave considerable time and energy on behalf of the Junior League of Austin, in which she served in several leadership positions. Reynolds often planned and performed in the group’s annual Charity Ball floor show. She represented her league at two Association of the Junior Leagues of America, Inc., conferences. Aside from these endeavors, Reynolds was also a founding board member of the Volunteer Bureau and an active member of the Travis County Medical Society Foundation, the Austin Headliners Club, Women’s Symphony League and Austin Symphony Society (seeAUSTIN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA), the Well Child Conference, the Settlement Club, the Science Center Guild, the Austin Ki-Ann Club, the Texas Exes, and the Kappa Kappa Gamma Alumnae Association. When her husband was president of the Austin Admirals Club, she organized the Austin Aqua Festival Coronation Ball. In 1967 KLRN-TV put her in charge of the public broadcasting station’s largest fundraiser, their televised auction, for 1968. She also served on the local steering committee and the platform reception committee for Republican Richard M. Nixon’s visit to Austin during his 1968 presidential campaign. In recognition of Reynolds’s extensive volunteer work, she was named the Austin Statesman’s Outstanding Volunteer in 1968. To explain her success as an organizer, she stated, “I try to remember what my daddy told me, too. He said the two cheapest things in the English language are ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you,’ that they accomplish more than anything else.”
In 1969 Reynolds moved to San Antonio, Texas, and in 1970 she and Dick Reynolds divorced. She married Vaughan Benjamin Meyer, a businessman in construction and lumber, on December 23, 1972, in San Antonio. She adopted his two daughters, Catherine and Beverly. The couple later divorced in 1998. In San Antonio she continued her patronage of the arts. With her help, the San Antonio Museum of Art was the second museum in the country, following the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, to host the unprecedented Mexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries exhibit in 1991. The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, the Witte Museum, the San Antonio Museum Association, the San Antonio Public Library, St. Mary’s Hall, and the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (later Texas Biomedical Research Institute) benefitted from her organizational work and philanthropy. She also established the Alice Kleberg Reynolds Foundation, which has helped fund numerous projects in arts and culture, literacy, education, health and medicine, and scientific pursuits in South and Central Texas.
Alice Gertrudis King Kleberg Reynolds Meyer died from cancer on June 28, 2000, in San Antonio. Her memorial service was held at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Austin, and she was buried at Austin Memorial Park Cemetery in Austin.
The Handbook of Texas Women project has its own dedicated website and resources.
Austin American, May 11, 1955; April 11, 1961; October 8, 1961; November 3, 1963; November 27, 1968. AustinAmerican-Statesman, July 1, 2000. Austin Statesman, April 24, 1949; September 9, 1951; February 15, 1963; October 8, 1961; October 29, 1967; October 24, 1968; December 29, 1968. Corpus Christi Caller-Times, May 9, 1947; December 21, 1947. Daily Texan (Austin, Texas), September 16, 1941; May 14, 1947; April 6, 1962. San Antonio Express-News, July 1, 2000; April 6, 2003. San Antonio Light, December 24, 1972.
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