Police Chief Luther Reynolds passes away after battle with cancer

Day of memory and sorrow. Remember and mourn. Two white candles with flowers on black.

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds passed away following a battle with cancer Monday.

City of Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg announced the chief’s passing Monday night. Reynolds was 56 years old.

Reynolds shared an open letter with the community Wednesday saying he has decided to end cancer treatment and enter hospice care.

Tecklenburg said Reynolds died at an area hospice facility at 8:10 p.m. with his wife, Caroline, and his two children, Luke and Grace, by his side.

Mayor Tecklenburg released the following statement Monday night:

Tonight, Charleston has lost not just a great police chief, but one of the finest human beings that many of us will ever know. Luther Reynolds was a modern man of ancient virtues: faith, honor, courage, duty. But most of all, and at his very core, Luther was a man of love. He loved his family, his friends, his life. He loved this city and the brave men and women who keep it safe. He loved God, and in faithful service, he loved his neighbor. Over the coming days, we will mourn Luther Reynolds, for we loved him as much as he loved us. But even today, as our hearts are breaking, we can take solace in knowing that with Luther’s final journey now complete, his weary days of pain have passed, and his timeless days of peace have just begun.

Friends and colleagues of Chief Reynolds are mourning the loss of the local leader.

“Chief Reynolds has been a shining example of what it means to be a leader. More importantly, he is a caring and compassionate man of faith who values others above himself,” the Charleston Police Department said in a statement. “We at CPD are so fortunate to have been led by someone who so clearly exemplifies the values of this job. The Chief’s contributions will live on through us as we work to keep our community and each other safe and well. Please keep Chief Reynolds and his family in your thoughts as we endeavor this last chapter to honor his service.”

The agency said in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center Sarcoma Research Center.

“My heart is absolutely broken over the loss of Chief Luther Reynolds,” Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano said in a statement. “We should all be so thankful that we grew to know this man who served the Charleston community with dignity, grace and compassion. I will miss my friend and confidant. The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office stands in solidarity with the Charleston Police Department, and we hold the deepest sympathies for his family at this time.”

“The North Charleston Police Department sends its condolences to Caroline and the Charleston Police Department,” North Charleston Police Chief Greg Gomes said in a statement. “We are all better officers and people watching Chief Reynolds lead with compassion, grace and passion.”

“On behalf of the Charleston Fire Fighters Association, we extend our deepest sympathies to Chief Luther Reynolds and his family, friends, and Police Force,” the Charleston Fire Fighters Association said in a statement. “The interactions we have had over the years with Chief were nothing but spectacular. To the Reynolds Family and Brothers and Sisters in Blue, please do not hesitate to lean on us during this difficult time. Rest High upon the Mountain Chief.”

“Although Chief Reynolds and I had grown apart over the last 3 years, I always knew how much he loved the people he swore to serve,” Pastor Thomas Dixon said in a statement. “But it wasn’t the oath he took. It was his heart to help. And that love was even more evident as he engaged in his final and most deadly battle…his battle against cancer. Somehow, in spite of the physical, mental and emotional challenges he faced over the last year & 1/2, he still managed to show up and give all he could for his community, the mark of a true servant, a true leader and a great human being. Police Chief Luther Reynolds, you will be missed but never forgotten.”

Charleston City councilmembers and state lawmakers also issued statements to express sympathy to the chief’s family.

“At every turn, with every challenge and in the face of unimaginable adversity, Luther Reynolds was a man of conviction, integrity, faith and courage,” Council Member Mike Seekings said. “Our world is all the better for his journey through it. To his wife Caroline and the entire Reynolds family we share in the grief of your loss and the joy of having such a guiding spirit share some of the all to short a time he had on this earth. God speed Chief.”

“Chief Reynolds was a dear friend, and I am absolutely heartbroken by his passing,” Council Member Karl Brady said. “He exemplified everything that it means to be a lawman with compassion, and I pray that he is accepted into God’s loving arms as a good and faithful servant.”

“Luther Reynolds was the bravest, most caring, faithful and genuine man I know. He had deep love for the people of Charleston as well as the officers and staff who worked for him,” Council Member Kevin Shealy said. “We have a better police force and safer community because of his service. He had a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and there is no doubt he has been welcomed into Heaven because he was a good and faithful servant.”

“Thanks to a good friend of both he and I we met at a local restaurant to talk about serious community issues during that meeting we both realized that we had the same common goals, working for the betterment of our community and building bridges for the future after that we started working more closely together to do just that I feel Charleston is a better place because of his service,” Rep. Wendell Gilliard said.

Tecklenburg named Reynolds as Charleston’s new police chief in March of 2018.

He shared a diagnosis of cancer in November of 2021, saying he was diagnosed early the previous month and said he would undergo a “rigorous treatment plan” that would include surgery and chemotherapy.”

In February of 2022, he announced he would return to his job after losing a leg to cancer.

“As you know, I was diagnosed with a very serious and rare form of cancer. I was treated by some of the world’s best surgeons at the MAYO clinic in Minnesota,” he said in a statement at that time. “However, I underwent a radical surgery and, in order to remove the cancer, the doctors had to amputate one of my legs. I am pleased to report that the cancer was successfully removed and my prognosis for the future is very positive.”

He returned to the job on Feb. 28 of last year, saying it was great to be back and he was grateful to work with “so many good people from his officers to the community to the mayor and city leaders.”

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