Salome as a Philanthropist, Charity Near & Far, Community Activist
The Reymann family often jokes about the many acres of land donated by Charles and Salome Reymann to erect St. Matthew’s Catholic Church in Akron, feeling that the church was built to support the two priests in the large family as well as the sons, daughters, spouses and ‘oodles’ of grandchildren. Land was also donated for the church, rectory and convent, as well as the adjacent gardens for the clergy and nuns to enjoy. These generous donations of land by Charles and Salome were just small fractions of their philanthropic efforts, especially for Salome.
One of their sons, Fr. Albert Reymann, became a Maryknoll priest and was assigned to Guatemala in Central America, where he fell in love with the country and its people. From afar, Salome supported her son in his efforts to spread the Catholic faith and tend to his flock. When Fr. Al needed funding to establish a parochial school for young girls, Salome underwrote the school, making the much needed institution a reality. When the Padre recognized the need for improved communications within the country, he established a radio station to transmit the Good Word to folks living in very remote areas. The challenge this created was on the receiving side, so Salome stepped in to host card parties to raise funds for hundreds of radios to be placed in countryside homes. And later, when a seminary in Guatemala celebrated the ordination of six seminarians, Salome stepped in again to fundraise.
“The Guatemalan seminarians were from very poor families, too poor to afford to buy the new priest his first chalice” says grandson Louis Reymann. “Salome successfully organized a series of garden parties in the Reymann family orchard, and raised the funds needed to purchase six shiny gold chalices. Once ordered, the chalices were delivered to my childhood home in West Akron (Marcel Reymann’s house), and looked fabulous on the dining room table prior to the continued shipment to Guatemala.”
So beautiful and intriguing were these chalices, that the Marcel Reymann children decided to put them to use and drink milk from the precious vessels. We can only imagine the horror that their mother, Linda Reymann, felt upon discovering this act of her innocent children.
“Salome also supported the parishioners of St. Matthew’s Church by donating a silver tea service as a door prize to the annual Christmas bazaar”, recalls granddaughter Selma Anne Elstun. “Not only did Salome donate the item, but she won it back when the ticket was drawn. I’m not sure if Salome insisted that another ticket be drawn, or if the tea set was donated back a year later”!
When asked about their grandmother as a community activist, the Marcel Reymann family watched Salome in action caring for her family, her neighborhood, her church, and her community. But Louis Reymann is quick to tell a story of Salome the matchmaker, truly being an activist even in the love life of her children.
“Sixty-eight years ago, a young man was dating a girl that Salome knew who lived a few miles west of Marcel’s family. The young man wanted to take this girl to a Notre Dame football game in South Bend, Indiana – across state lines. When the boy’s father heard about this, he forbade it. Salome decided to intercede on the girl’s behalf, called her son Marcel and asked if his twelve-year-old son, Louis, could go with the couple to South Bend, thereby giving the appearance of propriety – a simple phone call – a spur of the moment act of kindness.
Marcel agreed that it would look proper if Louis went on the date. The boy picked Louis up at 5:00 am the day of the game, then he picked up the girl and off they went. Five hours later they were in time for the kick-off. The Irish won! It was a wonderful time! One might wonder how this couple’s relationship would have turned out had Grandma not played matchmaker and made that one simple phone call. Nevertheless, it is now known how it did turn out. One and a half years later, the young couple, Thomas Reymann and Barbara Mough married. They had four sons, two of which – Chris and Gregory, currently serve on the Reymann Foundation Board. And the Reymann cousins grew up calling this young girl Aunt Barbara.”
Perhaps in her wisdom, Salome showed us love in action, whether it be within her family, or in a faraway country. And she also showed us how to be gracious in giving, that we may receive tenfold.