Jance and Mary Paige Reynolds were remembered Saturday as a father and daughter with larger-than-life personalities who knew how to make others feel loved and cherished.
Cedar Hill Baptist Church held a joint funeral service for the father and daughter who died earlier this month in a house fire in Shaker Heights. Jance, 62, and Mary Paige, 18, died of smoke inhalation in the fire that broke just before 4 a.m. at 3333 Daleford Road.
Siblings, cousins, teachers, co-workers and church members gathered for more than two hours for a service that inspired an equal amount of tears and laughter-filled memories for Jance, who worked at Saks Fifth Avenue at Beachwood Place Mall, and Mary Paige, who spent most of her life attending Shaker Heights Schools.
The service featured plenty of speakers, including a video comprised of interviews with several Cedar Hill youth group members who viewed Jance as a mentor, brother, uncle, father, best friend and the type "you could tell secrets you couldn't tell your parents because you knew they would yell at you," one member recalled.
"Uncle Jance was a huge mentor in my life," one youth member said in the video. "He supported the youth and really looked out for us and helped us out with whatever we needed.
"It's just really tough to see that somebody who was a huge mentor to the youth and did a lot for the community and the church is just gone and taken from our lives."
Daleford Fire: Shaker Heights Lost a Pillar
Jance served as a deacon for five years and became known as "Uncle Jance" to most once he began serving as youth leader.
Like his family members who spoke at the funeral, the youngsters at church said Jance's fashion sense and nurturing personality were among his standout characteristics. Aside from one-on-ones and bible studies, the youth members said Jance attended many of their graduations, birthday parties and other events.
There were seven people in the home at the time of the fire: Jance and Mary Paige, who died; Jance’s wife, Yvette, two younger daughters, and a niece and nephew.
Those other daughters, Sarah Rose and Lauren Grace, read both obituaries Saturday, making sure to replace Jance's name with "Dad" every time his name came up. Jance's nephew, Josias Reynolds was joined by nieces Safiya and Jomaya Reynolds to perform an original song dedicated to their deceased family members. Two of the trio were among those who made it out of the fire alive. The lyrics to their song, "Broken Glass," appreciate Jance's attempt to save Mary Paige from the flames.
"Many ways to say, 'farewell,' but I did not get the chance, and I'll never forget that morning," were among the heartfelt lyrics sang by the Reynolds family.
Other musical performances included an inspiration rendition of "Soon Ah Will Be Done," by Jance's brother, Keith.
Jance was born in Chicago, but also spent time in California before moving to Northeast Ohio. College roommates, friends and the couple whose wedding Jance and Yvette met at rounded out the speakers.
The affection for Jance's fashion sense and Mary Paige's humor were inescapable Saturday.
"He was always dressed cleaner than the Board of Health," Jance's cousin, Anthony Clark, joked.
Meanwhile, Sherry Beren and Mary Bourisseau, who taught Mary Paige in the Shaker school district, remember her making up songs about her family and doing now-famous impersonations of all of her teachers.
"We were a little shocked because she really sounded like us," Beren said to a crowd of laughter.
Find Out How to Help the Reynolds Family