Dr. Ralph Reinke, former president/CEO of Concordia Publishing House (CPH) and president of Concordia University, Nebraska (CUNE), Seward, Neb., died on April 27. He was 95.
Reinke was born in Elmhurst, Ill., on June 22, 1927. He married his first wife, Lois Borneman, on Aug. 28, 1948. Lois died in 1984. Reinke married his second wife, Carole Rediehs-Meyer, on June 14, 1986.
Reinke was in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946, serving as a “Seabee” in the Philippines. He earned a Bachelor of Science from Concordia University Chicago (CUC), River Forest, Ill., in 1949, and a Master of Arts from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., in 1952. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, in 1972.
From 1950 to 1956, Reinke served as a teacher and principal at St. John Lutheran Church in Houston. From 1956 to 1968 he served in various capacities at CUC (professor of psychology and education, director of student teaching and dean of education). Many years later, he came out of retirement to serve as chief executive officer at CUC.
Jeff Hynes, CUC Foundation president and CEO, said, “It was during the very difficult years of 2003–2004 when [Reinke] was called to serve [at CUC]. … So deep was Ralph’s love for Concordia, so moved [was he] to be asked to help guide our beloved institution to calmer waters, [that] he eagerly accepted. … As a result of Ralph’s deft abilities and those of his successive leaders, [CUC] will soon begin our 160th year by God’s grace. … We praise and thank God for Dr. Reinke’s extraordinary life. We pray for the Holy Spirit to bring deep peace and comfort to his [family] and to everyone who was blessed to know this truly gifted educator.”
Reinke served at CPH from 1968 to 1985 — first as assistant to the general manager (until 1971) and then as president and CEO — during which time he was involved with the development of the Concordia Self-Study Bible. He served as CUNE president from 1986 to 1990. A CUNE press release announcing Reinke’s retirement credited him with bringing financial stability to the school, raising its profile as a residential Christian university and leading it into a period of renovation and campus improvement.
Reinke continued working after his retirement from CUNE, serving in various capacities for the LCMS Texas District and the Concordia University System. Throughout his career, he also served on a number of parish and Synod boards and wrote articles for periodicals such as Lutheran Education, Issues in Christian Education and The Lutheran Witness.
Dr. Bernard D. Bull, who became CUNE’s 11th president in 2021, said Reinke came to CUNE at “a critical moment in Concordia’s history, a time of enrollment and financial challenges. His leadership was an important part of persisting and navigating through those difficulties.”
Jonathan D. Schultz, current president and CEO of CPH, said, “Dr. Reinke’s 14-year tenure at the helm [of CPH] … contributed greatly to the modernization of operations at CPH.”
Reinke is survived by his second wife, Carole; his children, Janice (William) Eisenloeffel, Stephan (Robin) Reinke, Sharon (Dave) Holaway, Jeffrey (Lisa) Meyer and Richard (Audra) Meyer; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Memorials may be made to the Dr. Ralph L. Reinke ’49 Education Leadership Scholarship Endowment at CUC. Please make checks payable to Concordia University Chicago and mail to 7400 Augusta St., River Forest, IL 60305. Write “Reinke Endowment” in the memo line.
A memorial service for Reinke is set for Saturday, June 24, 11 a.m., at Crown of Life Lutheran Church, 13131 Spanish Garden Dr., Sun City West, AZ.
Posted May 25, 2023