Obituary of Marie Elaine James-Reynolds
Marie James-Reynolds passed peacefully at home on February 2, 2019 at the age of 91. She had been a long-time resident of La Mesa/San Diego and a retired Foreign Language Professor Emerita at Grossmont College where she taught both German and Spanish from 1965-1993. She was preceeded in death by her loving husband, Robert Eugene Reynolds, Sr. in February, 2007.
Marie was a beautiful, intelligent and well-traveled lady with a zest for life and love of multiple cultures she experienced around the world. During her long and exciting life, she lived in Europe, Asia and the United States. Her extensive travels took her to every corner of the globe, which she encircled many times. In addition to seeing all of the new Seven Wonders of the World, including the Great Wall of China, Christ the Redeemer Statue (Rio, Brazil), Machu Picchu (Cuzco, Peru), Chichen Itza (Yucatan, Mexico), The Roman Colosseum (Rome, Italy), the Taj Mahal (Agra, India), and Petra (Jordan), she rode a camel to the Great Pyramid of Giza and walked with the penguins in Antartica.
Born Mabel Emily Bender on July 28, 1927 in Lausanne, Switzerland to Emilia Carmen Muniz Bender and Robert Bender, a German-born U.S. citizen. Her childhood years were spent living in Hanover, Germany (1928-9); Budapest, Hungary (1930-31) Vienna, Austria (1932-37); and Anschluss, Austria (1938-39). Her father owned a teak sailboat named “The Alk” which the family sailed on the Mediterranean Sea during the summers. The winters were often spent snow skiing in the Swiss-Austrian Alps.
By 1939 in Austria, with the imminent threat of Hitler, her family decided it was best to leave Europe and they boarded the last ship to leave Bremen, Germany for the US during WWII. One of the memorable stories from these early years included the fact that they were close friends with the Von Trapp family of “Sound of Music” fame who fled to the US at about the same time, ending up in Vermont. Mabel’s mother tongue was German.
Post-Europe’s safe haven was found in Puerto Rico where her mother was born and her grandmother and other cousins still resided. She lived there from 1939-41 (age 12-13) and learned fluent Spanish. Her father’s employment opportunity with Remington-Rand and Carney Engineering took the family to Bingham, NY and Norwalk, CT from 1941-48 (age 14- 21). In 1948, she obtained her Bachelors Degree at Wells College in Aurora, NY. Upon graduation, she found a job as a German Translator at the then-nascent CIA in Washington, D.C. where she met and married John Robert Bulger.
Mabel’s first marriage took her back to Europe with 1949-50 living in Kyrenia, Cyprus during the British years before the island was split between Greece and Turkey. There she gave birth to Steven Andrew Bulger in 1949 and Carol Louise Bulger in 1950. Her next home was in Henley-on-Thames in England where Irene Dale Bulger was born in 1952. In 1955, the family returned to the US living on both the West and East coasts before moving to Okinawa, Japan from 1956 to 1960 residing on US Kadena Air Base.
After returning to the US in 1960, her marriage began to fall apart and by 1962 she filed for divorce and moved from Springfield, Virginia to La Mesa, San Diego, California. She attended San Diego State and obtained a Masters in Foreign Languages and by 1965 was employed at Grossmont College and starting a new life as a single mother.
Despite life’s challenges, she succeeded and enjoyed life to the fullest hosting dinner parties, enjoying art, theatre, cultural events and traveling. She was a long-standing World Affairs Council member and season ticket holder for The Old Globe and San Diego Symphony. As a Platinum-level member with various world-class cruise liners, her love of adventure was demonstrated by bravely Ziplining in Costa Rica in her early 70’s.
In 2017 (age 89), she decided she wanted to see the tallest building in the world, so off she went on a 14-day Celebrity cruise that started in The United Emirates to see the Burj Kalifa in Dubai before stopping at four ports-of-call in western India, then Sri Lanka, Thailand and Singapore. Her final cruise was to Hawaii in March/April, 2018 (age 90). By mid-April, 2018, she caught pneumonia on a return flight and never fully recovered.
Marie is survived by her sole sibling and sister, Evelyn di Stefano (Barney) of Bowie, MD, her Uncle Juan Luis Anduze of Crestview, FL and three cousins, Tere McLaughlin (Rod) of Palmyra, PA; Carmen Perez (Jorge) of Port St. Lucie, FL; and Fernando Anduze (Jennifer) of Geneva, NY. She leaves her three children by her first marriage: Steven Andrew Bulger of Tampa, FL; Carol Louise Bulger of San Diego, CA; and Irene Dale Lauren (Philip Hadjian) of Emeryville, California. She is also survived by her only granddaughter, Erika Voigt Bulger who currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany.
Through her 35-year marriage to Robert Eugene Reynolds, Sr., she leaves behind three of Bob’s caring children: Robert Eugene Reynolds, Jr. (Joy) of El Cajon, CA; Thomas Richard Reynolds of Santa Rosa, CA, and Barbara Ann Christmann (Jim) of Rohnert Park, CA. She also leaves six other grandchildren: Julie Reynolds of Washington, DC; Ryan Reynolds of Los Gatos, CA; Matthew Christmann (Norah) of San Carlos, CA; Cameron Christmann of Santa Rosa, CA; Shannon Rousello (Alan) of Upland, CA, and Dawn Reynolds of Laguna Niguel, CA. Marie also had five great-grandchildren: Danny, Allison and Emily Rousello, plus Sophia and Ruby Christmann.