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Clara Reyes, founder of Kansas City's Dos Mundos newspaper, remembered as a mentor

A woman in a black top and tan coat sits in an office chair. Behind her is a computer with a webpage titled "Dos Mundos."
Ed Reyes
Clara Reyes founded Dos Mundos to bridge the gap between Kansas City's English- and Spanish-speaking residents. She died Feb. 17 at the age of 86.

Reyes served in many Kansas City community organizations and was dedicated to bridging the gap between its Spanish- and English-speaking residents. Her children are dedicated to continuing her legacy.

The founder of Kansas City’s bilingual newspaper Dos Mundos, Clara Reyes, died Feb. 17. Reyes, who was 86, had been diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.

Reyes started Dos Mundos in 1981, to help include the city’s Spanish-speaking residents in the daily life of the region. It was Missouri's first Latino bilingual newspaper and serves many neighboring states.

“She looked for how she could contribute,” said Ed Reyes, her son. “Through meeting other Latinos and Latinas in the community she found out that there was a gap in communication and information, and felt like she needed to fill that gap.”

The publication started as a newsletter that Reyes handed out at community organizations. It quickly grew to include more news and information for the broader community.

Reyes made sure to publish articles in both English and Spanish, to bridge what she called “the two worlds” — or “dos mundos” in Spanish.

A woman in a pink shirt and black suit jacket stands next to a man in a blue shirt and blue suit jacket.
Ed Reyes
Clara Reyes, left, and her husband Manuel Reyes ran the Dos Mundos newspaper since its founding in 1981 until Manuel died in 2018. After Clara's death last week, her children vowed to keep the paper running.

Despite the effort to publish stories in English, Reyes faced discrimination from reticent readers and advertisers, who were not interested in reaching out to the Latino community. Reyes’ daughter, Daniela Reyes-Raymer, said her mom was persistent in making the newspaper a mainstay for Kansas City.

“You do have to find the courage, and you have to make sure that the information breeds security and that you know what you're saying,” Reyes-Raymer told KCUR’s Up To Date on Friday. “You have to believe it with all your heart and know that you're doing it for the good.”

Reyes was born into a family of 10 in Guadalajara, in the western Mexican state of Jalisco. She graduated with a dental degree from the University of Guadalajara.

In 1964, she visited Kansas City to further her dental education. While here, she met Manuel Reyes, whom she soon married. Manuel Reyes died of pancreatic cancer in 2018.

The couple moved to Overland Park, Kansas, but Reyes’ Mexican college credits didn’t transfer over to her new country. So, before founding Dos Mundos, she spent several years as an interpreter and later a real estate agent while raising two kids.

Reyes-Raymer said her mother was loyal to her loved ones and community. But more than that, Reyes was her best friend.

“I had the most incredible mentor,” Reyes-Raymer said. “I think that's what makes this so difficult because it's not just losing a mother, it's not just losing your best friend, it's not losing your business partner. It's losing your mentor.”

“There's a lot of eggs in this one basket,” she said.

One woman sits in a chair behind a desk with Dos Mundos news papers on it. Behind her, two people stand leaning on her chair.
Ed Reyes
Clara Reyes, seated, made sure to include her children, Ed Reyes, left, and Diana Reyes-Raymer, in Dos Mundos affairs. They plan to keep the paper going after her death.

Reyes-Raymer said her mom had a mission to usher more Latinas into business. She served in MANA de Kansas City, an organization dedicated to empowering Latinas, as well as the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City, the National Federation of Hispanic Owned Publications, Hispanic Women Against Cancer and other organizations.

Reyes was also integral in beautifying Southwest Boulevard in the ‘80s and ‘90s, working with former Kansas City Mayor Richard Berkley and other city leaders to improve parking and pavers, among other things.

Reyes started three radio stations, 1250 KYYS-AM, 1340 KDTD-AM, and KYZZ 1480-AM, to reach out to Spanish-speaking listeners and Dos Mundos readers.

Ed Reyes said his mother’s impact on the Kansas City area will be felt for years to come.

“People are starting to express their feelings and their admiration for what she did through the Facebook posts, calls, and visits that we get,” he said. “I think it's a good example of what she did.”

“It was always behind the scenes and now it's starting to come forward,” Ed Reyes said.

Clara Reyes’ children plan to continue publishing the paper. They hope to encourage the city’s Latino community and give them a voice, just like their mother did.

A visitation for Clara Reyes will be held at 10 a.m. on Feb. 27 at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 11300 W. 103rd St., Overland Park, Kansas 66214. It will be immediately followed by a Mass of Christian Burial.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
Claudia Brancart is an Up To Date producer for KCUR 89.3. She graduated from Pitzer College in Los Angeles where she majored in World Literature and Studio Art. You can reach her at claudiab@kcur.org.
When news breaks, it can be easy to rely on officials and people in power to get information fast. As KCUR’s general assignment and breaking news reporter, I want to bring you the human faces of the day’s biggest stories. Whether it’s a local shop owner or a worker on the picket line, I want to give you the stories of the real people who are driving change in the Kansas City area. Email me at savannahhawley@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @savannahhawley.
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