CARLSBAD — A larger-than-life personality and longtime La Costa community volunteer unexpectedly died earlier this month in San Francisco, leaving friends and family devastated.
Brian Reynolds, 50, of Carlsbad, was competing in the 29th annual Alcatraz Sharkfest Swim on Aug. 7 in San Francisco when he suffered an unknown medical incident and passed away, according to Reynolds’ sister Tracy Strauss.
Strauss told The Coast News that no official cause of death had been communicated to the family. Close friends Mike Batista and Ron Fontaine said Reynolds was in great shape leading up to the event and had trained several months for the 1 1/2-mile-long swim.
A memorial is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Aug. 26 at the North Coast Church Vista campus, 2405 North Santa Fe Ave.
Family members and close friends described Reynolds as having a booming presence and infectious smile. But above all else, he was a family man dedicated to his wife, Jane, of 23 years, and their two college-aged sons, Matthew and Christian.
“(Brian Reynolds) was incredibly positive,” Strauss said. “He was just a confident guy. When he walked into a room, he was just a presence. He was one of those to who you were immediately drawn too. He was so funny … and could connect with anyone.”
Strauss said her brother’s dedication to family was a large part of his identity. According to Strauss, Reynolds always stood out as the older sibling, especially when their parents adopted two special-needs children, both of whom Reynolds took under his wing.
Outside of his family, Reynolds was passionate about sports, volunteering with the La Costa Canyon Pop Warner youth football program for over a decade and helping build the program to become a reliable feeder for area high school teams.
Reynolds also served as an assistant coach for LCC Mavs Pop Warner football teams and volunteered selling concessions for years during high school sporting events.
“Brian Reynolds was an amazing man who dedicated 11 years to Pop Warner and our community in helping develop youth sports and improve the experience for families and young athletes,” said Brian Dunphy, current president of the LCC Pop Warner board of directors.
Dunphy said the organization is working on establishing a memorial scholarship in Reynolds’ honor and dedicating this year’s MVP awards in each age group to the late family man and coach.
Kari DiGiulio, athletic director at La Costa Canyon High School, said Reynolds helped create fundraising opportunities for the school’s athletic teams.
“We are beyond devastated for the family,” DiGiulio said.
Reynolds was also an avid golfer and a member of the Shadowridge Golf Club in Vista for the past three years, Fontaine said.
In the aftermath of Reynolds’ death, Lucy Batista organized a GoFundMe fundraiser seeking donations to support La Costa Canyon High School’s football and golf programs and the LCC Mavs Pop Warner league.
“We loved being around the kids and tried to make things fun,” Fontaine said. “That was the one thing we never forgot about.”
But Reynolds’ competitive drive also stood out, according to his friends. Reynolds was never one to sit around when it came to playing everything from cards, dice, cornhole or even his work as a mortgage lender.
Reynolds’ was a season ticket holder for the San Diego Padres and a longtime Chargers fan.
“The biggest thing I remember about Brian is that smile,” Mike Batista said. “He just had that infectious personality. He was the first to step up and volunteer.”