From the May 25th San Angelo Standard-Times:

Claire Reynolds' parents frequently heard their daughter chatter away in her bedroom when she was a child.

''Who are you talking to?'' her father, the Rev. John Reynolds, would ask. ''My students,'' the perky 4 year-old would respond, as she continued to prattle about reptiles, amphibians or Sunday school lore.

Claire was a natural educator, friends and family said.

She taught her toys, her pets and, in her final year, at-risk eighth-graders at Jackson Middle School in San Antonio. But Saturday the lessons weren't about biology or algebra or geometry. They weren't about academics at all.

A day after the 23-year-old died in a wreck near Menard, Claire was teaching her friends and family about life, faith, friendship and unconditional love.

Reynolds was traveling home for Memorial Day weekend late Friday when she swerved to miss a blue cattle truck racing by several cars.

She overcorrected, sending her 1997 Mercury spinning into oncoming traffic on U.S. 83, where she collided with a white suburban killing 49-year-old Bob Shields of Grape Creek.

The man's passengers, Keith Shields, 8; Michael Shields, 14; Robert Shields, 13; Adam Mullins, 14; and Jason Smith, 19; were taken to San Angelo hospitals, where they were treated for broken bones and abrasions.

Dozens of family and friends streamed in and out of John and Sara Reynolds' home Saturday, offering condolences and casseroles. John Reynolds is the head minister at Sierra Vista United Methodist Church.

Eve Nelson, Claire's college roommate, teaching colleague and friend, sat outside the brick home, twirling blades of grass between her fingers.

''I know she's looking down on us right now saying, 'Don't be sad, I'm OK,' '' Nelson said. ''She's just always had a positive outlook. She always says things happen for a reason.''

Nelson said Claire was an ''incredible listener'' whose genuine passion and love drew her friends from across the state. She kept in touch with most of them, too.

''She invested in others and spread herself around to so many people, but she always made everyone feel like they were the most important,'' Nelson said.

Ariel Reynolds, Claire's 20-year-old sister, clutched a tiny stuffed frog - her sister's favorite - as she described a bond strengthened by childhood moves from town to town.

''She was always my best friend,'' Ariel said. ''Sometimes she was all I had.''

Ariel giggled softly as she looked skyward as darkening clouds hinted rain. She reminisced about home videos with Claire - a ''beautiful little princess'' - twirling in her nightgown as light rain fell around her.

''She was beautiful,'' Ariel said. ''She had an inner glow. She just radiated.''

Claire was intelligent, Nelson said. She was valedictorian of her high school class in Kingsville and earned bachelor's and master's degrees at Trinity University in San Antonio before accepting the teaching post at Jackson Middle School.

In her first year of teaching, colleagues named her ''Champion of Students.'' She also had been selected as an adjunct professor for Trinity, where she would have mentored new teachers.

The Rev. Carl Rohlfs, a longtime family friend, described Claire as an adventurous spirit.

She conquered less traveled nooks of Yellowstone National Park and studied in Australia, where she surfed, skied and skydived. She was planning a summer trip to New York with friends.

''I don't know that she ever knew fear,'' said Rohlfs, who will deliver her eulogy. ''She had not one ounce of reluctance.''

That courage, he said, extended to her spiritual life.

Being a preacher's kid isn't always easy, Rohlfs said, but many knew Claire as a comfortable, conversant sounding board for convictions. She led a Bible study at her San Antonio church.

Even after her death, Claire is still educating, Rohlfs said.

Claire's memory brought several of her ''students'' together Saturday to learn strength and support - that blessings do come out of tragedy.

Claire's memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at Sierra Vista with the Revs. Rohlfs and J. Michael Lowry presiding. Burial will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday at San Saba City Cemetery. A second memorial service will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Colonial Hills United Methodist Church in San Antonio.

Obituary from the San Angelo Standard-Times:

Rachel Claire Reynolds, of San Antonio, was born Aug. 10, 1979, in Georgetown, Texas, and died in a car accident May 23, 2003. She attended school in Sharyland, San Saba, and graduated as valedictorian of H.M. King High School in Kingsville, Texas. She received her B.A. and master’s degrees in teaching from Trinity University in San Antonio. She was teaching eighth grade math and geometry at Jackson Middle School in San Antonio at the time of her death. Claire, true to her name, brought light and clarity to any situation she encountered and to all those who knew and loved her. In her first year of teaching, she had been named “Champion of Students” for the month of March. She also had been selected as an adjunct professor for the mentoring program Trinity operates on the Jackson Middle School campus. She is survived by her parents, John and Sara Schucany Reynolds, her beloved sister, Ariel, and her grandmother, Jane Temple, all of San Angelo; and by aunts, uncles, cousins, students and countless friends. A service of death and resurrection will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, May 26, at Sierra Vista United Methodist Church, 4522 College Hills Blvd., with the Rev. Carl Rohlfs and J. Michael Lowry presiding. Interment will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 27, in San Saba City Cemetery, and a memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 28, at Colonial Hills United Methodist Church in San Antonio. Memorials may be made to the Sierra Vista Life Center or a charity of your choice.