People of Etowah – Deb Reynolds


Name: Deb Reynolds

Where were you born and raised?

“Calhoun County, near Silver Lakes Golf Course. We later moved to North Gadsden but settled in Camp Sibert in Attalla when I was 13. My parents continued to live there until they passed to their eternal home in heaven.”

What is your occupation?

“I am an instructor/program advisor for Gadsden State Community College in the Engineering Technology Division. Electrical Technology is my major. I instruct in the area of residential, commercial and industrial electricity. I also instruct in the areas of programmable logic controllers, motors, conduit and raceway systems, and Electrical Engineering Theory. I tell folks that we teach our students how to wire, and then how not to. The younger generation really enjoys the programming area and running robots. It is a blessing to see them employed as soon as they finish their degree or certificate, and highly paid at that.”

What made you decide to work in your field?

“I grew up helping my dad and always had an interest in the science and electrical areas of study. He needed help often, and I loved to spend time with him. My mom, Lorene Reynolds, always taught that it was OK to do a “man’s job,” and still be a lady. When the power is turned on and the lights burn bright, it gives you a huge sense of creation. Being able to teach electrical, and having anything to do with the future of another human being, is an awesome blessing.”

Tell us about your family and pets.

“I have two children, Joel Atkins and Lori Atkins Whidby, and two precious grandchildren; Grace, age 7, and Josh, age 2. I have a cat named Sophie and two dogs that talk to me when I pull in the drive. I call them my welcome committee.”

Describe an average day in your life.

“I get up around 5:30 a.m., read my devotional, check my email and Facebook, exercise (sometimes), and head out to teach my classes at Gadsden State Community College. They start up at 7 a.m. so that the students may leave early for local co-op positions. We conduct theory and live labs, so it keeps me running until around 2 p.m. I then do my office work, meet new students and leave out for home. I like to get a nap in the afternoon before I start my second job…my house and yard.”

What school or schools have you attended?

“I went to Duke Elementary, Alexandria, Gaston, Alma Hinson, and graduated from Etowah High School. Yes, we moved a lot.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“I enjoy working outside, Southern Gospel singings, visiting my children and playing with my grands.”

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?

“Becoming a female Master Electrician for the State of Alabama; winning the Student of the Year Award for the state of Alabama, and Exceptional Teaching Awards were huge blessings. But, my greatest accomplishment is raising my children (and sometimes others) as a single parent. What a blessing!”

Name the one person that has been the most influential in your life. Why?

“Clyde Reynolds, my sweet dad. He taught me a great work ethic, right from wrong, how to laugh and enjoy my time on earth, but most importantly, that I could be anything I wanted to be. He taught his children to work hard toward that goal and ask God to bless our steps in achieving any task. We lost Dad in 2013, and I lost my father, best friend, mentor and part of my heart.”

To what do you credit your success?

“Jesus Christ, my Lord! I also have to brag on Gadsden State Community College for helping me rebuild my life after divorce, and my favorite instructors, Jack Leftwich and Robert Abrams. Both are deceased but their memories will stay with me forever. They saw something in me that I couldn’t begin to see in myself, and I thank God for both of them.”

Are you involved in any service organizations?

“Yes, I volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. I have volunteered with several homes in Gadsden over the years, but last year my daughter became a single parent and needed assistance for her family. It has been a blessing to watch her beautiful house grow from the love and commitment of local volunteers.”

What is your favorite thing about this community?

“I always admire the way our folks come together in a disaster and in times of need. We have been beaten by tornadoes and storms, but those devastating times are no match for the commitment and dedication from our neighbors and friends. I have seen the hands and feet of Christ during the past few weeks through the efforts of those with a compassion to serve others.”

What would you like to see change in the community?

“Better medical and housing assistance for our veterans. Our Veterans Upward Bound program at Gadsden State is awesome, but it breaks my heart when our veterans are postponed for surgery or having to function without their medications while trying to complete their college classes.”

What are three words that describe you?

“Happy, hopeful and humorous. I am so blessed, but sometimes life trips me up and gets the best of me. I am only able to overcome a defeated spirit because I realize how mighty our God is, and I regain my foothold.”

What is something surprising that many do not know about you?

“Although I am a female master electrician, I love to ballroom dance, sew, create flower arrangements and cook when I’m off work. I cry at movies, love to play with my grandbabies and do a lot of “woman stuff.” I have been watching square dancing with some precious friends, and I hope to learn how as soon as I fully recover from hip replacement surgery.”

What is your favorite quote?

“Greater is He who is in me than He who is in the world.”

What is on your bucket list?

“Alaska! I can’t wait to take a trip to this beautiful state, but I do want to go during summer months. Another is the Grand Canyon, maybe on my way to Alaska!

What is your hidden talent? 

“I love to play my piano! I have been blessed to play at church sometimes and with a few Southern Gospel quartets over the years.”

If a movie were made about your life, who would you want to play you?

“My daughter, because she can imitate me and knows me so well.”

What advice would you give yourself as a child?

“Stop worrying about what people say about you when you do things that are different from the norm! Start worrying when they stop talking, because that means you are doing nothing with your life.”

If you would like to nominate someone for the People of Etowah column, email or call 256-547-1049.

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