Coronado lost a very special friend last month. Barbara Haines died June 10, just a week before her 91st birthday. She was the oldest surviving member of a Coronado family that spans six generations. Her life was filled with love and giving.
Barb (born 1929) was brought into this world by Captain Stewart Reynolds and Jane Keck Reynolds as the oldest of three children. Her sister, Jane Meade (1931), lives in the historic Wizard of Oz House on Star Park and owned the Chowder House Restaurant. Brother Nick Reynolds (1933) was a founding member of the Kingston Trio, one of this country’s greatest musical groups.
Barb was born at Mercy Hospital and grew up in Coronado. She and her siblings attended the Hotel Del Beach School as young children. Later, they moved to 532 Marina Avenue, and then, in 1932, took up temporary residence in Alpine for health reasons, where they stayed until the end of World War II, and their men returned.
Jane’s first memory of Barb was at the ranch in Alpine. “She was so adorable. We attended elementary school there. It was a one room school, with one teacher, whom we both fell madly in love with.” Jane recalled that most of their classmates were Kumeyaay Indians who lived in the area.
“I looked up to my big sister,” said Jane. “She was smart and cute. Upon the family’s return to Coronado, she went away to Bishop’s School in La Jolla for four years in high school, while I attended Coronado High School.” Barb graduated from Bishop’s in 1946, and attended Mercy Hospital’s Nursing School from 1947-1949.
In 1950, as a belated graduation gift to Barb and Jane, their mother took them on a cruise to Europe aboard the Queen Mary. Granny Reynolds always told her girls the story of how her family, and all her friends’ families, believed strongly that sailing to Europe was a valuable rounding and educational experience, one that could only be gained at sea, aboard ship.
“We were in First-Class,” remembered sister Jane Meade, “but we had more fun down in steerage with the Third-Class passengers and Barb and I would constantly sneak down there when mother wasn’t looking. Barb’s nickname was ‘Hithy.’ You can imagine the fun Hithy and I had together, not just on that voyage, but our entire lives.”
Travel and the European experience was handed down for generations in their family. Barb took Pam and middle sister Caroline on a cruise to Europe on the Queen Elizabeth II. “I couldn’t go,” said Bunnie, “because I was still in high school.” Caroline remembered that cruise well. “Of course, mom had great plans to see all the historical sights. This trip she planned for us, looking back now, was a once in a lifetime opportunity she did for us. Anyway, Pammy and I were 18 and 19 and all we wanted to do is go to discos, drink and meet boys, poor mom. She did her best to keep us interested in the history of it all.”
Two years later, in 1976, travel was again on the agenda. “I was sent to school in England and my older sister Pam was sent to Switzerland,” said Bunnie. “It was the best thing Mom ever did for me. After that, I opted for travel as opposed to education.”
Adventure seemed to be a constant companion on Barb’s mother’s side of the family. The famous Keck poker game at the Hotel Del is an example of that. Barb’s grandparents had traveled annually by train, from East Hampton, New York to Coronado, ever since they honeymooned at the Hotel Del in 1894.
On one of their annual pilgrimages, in 1917, Keck was in a midnight poker game at the Del. As the game drew to a close, one of the players wanted to cover his bet with a property deed for a little home at 965 Alameda (then known as “K Avenue”) valued at $5,000. Keck won the hand and the family of eight took up permanent residence in Coronado.
Their own daughter, who was Barb’s mother, and known around Coronado for decades simply as, “Granny,” was close friends with Ernest Hemingway, Bing Crosby and Jackie Bouvier Kennedy, among others. And so goes the legacy of the Keck Family. Her brother, Tom Keck, drove an ambulance with Hemingway during WWI. Her husband was in charge of Hemingway’s favorite fishing grounds in Key West and the future author was a constant dinner companion in their home.
“Our best times were when we were gambling together,” said Jane. “We frequently went to Las Vegas together with our families. We would go there to see the Kingston Trio. They were brand new, and we would watch the concert and then venture into the casinos. At first, we were afraid to gamble much, but we got better and better at it.
“There was a sign on the airplane that said they had a one-day gambling flight, where anyone could leave San Diego at 9 a.m., and be back home by 3 p.m. Well, these were the old propeller airplanes, but we started thinking about it, and Barb figured we could put our kids in school at 8, get on the plane, gamble, and get home in time to pick up the kids. We went nearly every day.
“Sometimes we took the train, when we had the luxury of time. At first, we would lose a little money, but not tell our husbands. Then we started to win and it was a whole new world for us. We had more fun together, Hithy and I. Granny would join us on many of those excursions to Las Vegas. She loved to gamble, but refused to fly.”
Until her final days, Granny Reynolds played with her daughters. She was the one who taught them how to play Blackjack, and the children always played Granny’s lucky roulette number, “32.” The three women spent endless hours together sharing adventures and laughing together. Theirs was a wonderful relationship.
In 2012, 113 members of the Keck family gathered in Coronado for a three-day reunion. The impact of the Keck family on Coronado may not have been as heralded as, say, a Spreckels, a Jessup or a Babcock. And yet, since that midnight poker game, the Kecks, Reynolds, Haines, Harris and Meade families have steadily shaped this island community and those who live here.
Like their parents, the Keck-Reynolds offspring seemed to walk hand-in-hand with adventure. Before she married and had children, Barb traveled on train trips through Spain with her cousin Poppy, meeting famous matadors along the way. Of course, that always got them the best seats in the house at bullfights. She moved to San Francisco for two years with childhood friend Phyllis Kraus, where the two beautiful young women worked in nursing while exploring sports, arts & culture, and the excitement found in the Bay Area.
She was a tennis champion, scouted by former Wimbledon winner and Davis Cup champion, Les Stoefen (he was one of the top players in the world in the 1930s). He felt she had the potential to play the circuit, but Barb’s tennis dreams took second place to her desire to become a nurse and to help people.
She played in thousands of tennis matches and tournaments, but found her greatest tennis joy in playing (and winning) in the father-daughter and women’s doubles divisions with her father and sister. She was a regular sight on the Hotel del Coronado’s stadium court, where guests would gather to watch her play.
As the children began to grow, Nick went into music. Jane, in her own words, was a “playful teenager” in Coronado, fell in love, and married at age 19. Meanwhile, Barb pursued a scholarly, athletic road.
Their daddy, Captain Stewart Reynolds, was their tennis coach. He was one of the few players who could turn the historically defensive lob into an offensive shot – a genuine weapon on the tennis courts. It is still known around Coronado as, “The Captain Reynolds Lob.”
Barb’s mother didn’t smoke or drink. Her father was Navy. He loved his “little drinks,” as the children called them. He became famous locally for his dinnertime cocktails, of which his children often participated.
Music was also a major factor in young Barbara Reynolds’ life. “Daddy would always make us sing and play instruments,” recalled Barb’s sister Jane Meade. “Even though our brother Nicky was the only one of us to achieve any success with a musical career, we all sang nightly at the dinner table – usually the song ‘Seeing Nellie Home,’ (an old Civil War song) and we would harmonize our way through one verse, then laugh our way through the next.” The birth of harmony in that family began around that kitchen table, with the three Reynolds children being led in song by their father.
“Seeing Nellie Home”
While “The Walton’s’” version of “Seeing Nellie Home” is short on harmonies, you get the idea of how such a simple and heartfelt song could unite a family around the dinner table.
Brother Nick was 25 when he and the Trio took off. “Music has always been everything to us,” said Jane, “especially good harmony, and the Trio was so darned good at that. They didn’t sing about naughty or contemporary things. They were just pure harmony. Being a sister to a famous musician was really wonderful. Can you imagine seeing your brother on the cover of LIFE Magazine? Barb and I loved every moment of it.”
Nick Reynolds was oft-heard to say his sisters were better at harmony than he was, and history tells us there were none better at harmony than Nick Reynolds and the Kingston Trio.
Once the Captain retired from the Navy, he settled their children in the Marina Avenue house. It wasn’t uncommon for Bing Crosby to drop by now and again, and other celebrities as well. “Music was the tie that binds,” recalled Jane. “Ours was always a musical household.”
Barb met the love of her life, the handsome and dashing Robert “Baines” Haines in 1952. He was a successful sailboat racer and went on to become the captain of numerous scientific research vessels for Scripps Institute of Oceanography. They married in 1953. She was 24.
Barb and Baines had four children, the oldest is Robbie Haines, who went on to win the Olympic Gold Medal in sailing (1984), and now runs the blue water sailing campaigns for Roy Disney, grandnephew of Walt Disney. Oldest daughter, Pam, now resides with her family in Costa Mesa. Caroline is a successful realtor in Coronado, and Bunnie lives in Borrego Springs, making frequent trips back to Coronado. The family remains extremely close.
“I loved my sister more than anything,” said Jane. We knew everything about each other, and loved each other all the more because of it. I was so impressed when she went to Australia and the Great Barrier Reef, to meet Baines, her husband. She took a ship because in those days no planes made that trip. She took her kids with her, and would write us letters describing their adventure. We loved getting letters from Hithy.”
She ran the social programs at the Hotel Del and the then-newly built Coronado Shores, where she was the first Coronado Shores social director (1971-1976). At the Shores she was in charge of security, events, the bar, the tennis courts and other facilities. She was larger than life to those new condo owners and first-time Coronadans, helping make their lives very special.
Barb entered the travel business, while sneaking off to Las Vegas with her mother and sister to gamble and play blackjack as often as possible. She created the Coronado Fun Club in 1981 for 30 years. She was attracted to the cruise industry and the travel business, and she loved to help seniors, who made up most of her clientele.
When Barb and her siblings were young children, George Griffith was the swimming instructor at the Hotel del Coronado pool. He was an Olympic diver in the 1932 Summer Olympics, and a legendary figure on tiny Coronado. He taught the children to swim and made it fun with little games. “He would toss a penny into the deep end of the pool,” remembered Jane. “Of course, little games such as that made us all better swimmers and divers, and instilled great confidence into our young bodies. Then, George would climb to the top of the high dive and demonstrate that beautiful form that earned him so many accolades and awards.”
Many years later, old George, now in his 90s, had a bucket list item, to go through the Panama Canal. Barb found out about it, and she decided to make that happen. She and Jane took George on a cruise through the Canal. He could hardly walk, but Barb got him in the pool, aboard ship, as they were transiting the Canal.
She held him in her arms, so he could float and feel the water. It was her way of saying thank you to a man who made such an impression on her life. Sadly, George died on that trip. He died on the ship, which is what Barb felt he was actually hoping for. But, not before she helped him make one more fabulous memory together. “That was a precious moment,” said Jane, “and I’ll never forget it. We loved him dearly.”
Barb had thousands of friends and impacted most of their lives. She was devoted to her family, and had a great relationship with her own mother and father. Inquisitive, loving, adventurous and devoted to family. This is Barb Haines’ legacy, and it lives on successfully with each of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. There is no shortage of role models in this family.
Barbara Haines is pre-deceased by her husband Robert “Baines” Haines and brother Nick Reynolds (Leslie). She is survived by her sister Jane Meade (Pike) of Coronado. She is also survived by her son and daughter-in-law Robbie & Amy Haines, their two children Brian and Molly, and four grandchildren; daughter Pam and Jamie Hardenbergh, and their two children Clark & Caroline; daughter Caroline and her daughter Ryann; and daughter Bunnie & Jack Hamilton.
Services will be private. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made “In Memory of Barbara Haines,” to the Coronado Senior Center, 1019 7th Street, Coronado, CA 92118.