Stu Raynolds Obituary

We are sad to report that well-known juggler and prop maker Stu Raynolds passed away on February 17, 2020.

Stuart Raynolds was born in 1927 in Chicago, Illinois (USA), the son of Harold Raynolds Senior and Dorothy Raynolds. He was a very strong technical juggler, and attended the first IJA Convention in 1948, shortly after finishing up his service in the US Army, where he was an MP in Korea. Stu was one of the only five club jugglers at the early IJA Conventions.

Stu Raynolds was a part-time performer, often with his mentor, Art Jennings, or with a classmate at Cornell University, Bud Carlson.

Stu Raynolds and Bud Carlson

Stu also befriended legendary prop maker Harry Lind, who became his other mentor.

Stu Raynolds and Harry Lind

Through Lind, Stu developed an interest in creating a better club, which dominated much of his adulthood. Stu earned a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh and became a research fellow at Du Pont. Raynolds applied his scientific knowledge and skills to create fiberglass clubs, which replaced wooden clubs as the primary prop for serious jugglers in the 1970s until plastic clubs were developed and refined.

Stu in his workshop

Stu’s clubs and other props were popular throughout the 1970s and 1980s and during the early 1990s.  His clubs were often referred to as the Rolls Royce of juggling clubs.

Some of the various clubs that Stu Raynolds manufactured

Stu also made and sold hoops, cigar boxes, and old-style wooden juggling sticks.

In 1972, Stu appeared on the very popular children’s television show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, where he juggled and attempted to teach Fred Rogers how to juggle.

Stu was the 1970 IJA 3 Club Champion, the 1970 Club Numbers Champion, the 1971 5-Club Champion, the 1972 3 and 4 Club Champion, and the 1973 IJA Numbers Champion.

Raynolds served the IJA as president in 1954-1955 and again in 1976-1977, and was a large financial supporter of the organization in its early days. Stu was recognized as an Honorary Life Member in 1979.

Stu married Nancy Raynolds and had two sons, Robert (Bob) and James (Jim), and one daughter, Cathy Breckenridge. You can see Stu and James perform together in the following video.

Stu and Nancy divorced but Stu married his second wife, Joanne, whom he remained with for 34 years until his passing.

Stu retired from Dupont in 1988. Besides his family and juggling, another great love of Stu’s was music, especially classical music. He played the bagpipes, clarinet, and violin, and even made handcrafted violins. Stu also loved to play chess.

Stu and his son James

Stu leaves behind his wife Joanne, son James, daughter Cathy Breckenridge, ex-wife Nancy, and five grandchildren (Evan Raynolds, Adam Raynolds, Richard Breckenridge, Michael Breckenridge, and Kenneth Breckenridge). He also has three step daughters (Nancy, Linda and Pam), seven step grandchildren (Mallory, Alexander, Emily, Ethan, Jordan, Joshua, and Jacob) and one step great grandchild, (Lee John). Stu was preceded in death by his son Bob, who passed away in 2010.

In lieu of flowers, a contribution can be made to the International Jugglers’ Association by clicking here.

David Cain is a professional juggler, juggling historian, and the owner of the world's only juggling museum, the Museum of Juggling History. He is a Guinness world record holder and 16 time IJA gold medalist. In addition to his juggling pursuits, David is a successful composer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and singer as well as the author of twenty-six books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).

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