Donald “Don” Richard Rintz, 80, died on Tuesday, September 9, 2014, at Ridgewood Care Center in Racine.
Don (called “Donnie” by his mother) grew up on Magnet Avenue, and had many adventures from boyhood to young man with his best friend Don Kennedy around their neighborhood and into the Windy City. A gifted storyteller, one of his favorites was of the time he shared a cigarette break and salty language with Lucille Ball on the back steps of the theater where he was an usher.
He had great admiration for the good fathers and learned men in his family, including his father, Vincent, a loving and smart man who by trade was pressman of a book bindery in Chicago; and his father-in-law, Richard Nelson Current, the esteemed professor, historian and author. Both men preceded him in death in 1969 and 2012 respectively.
He also had great appreciation for the strong and smart women in his family, including his maternal grandmother, Mamie, the archetypal matriarch of six daughters and one son; his mother, Mabel, a kind wife and mother with a backbone and facility with the home budget; and his daughter, Maria, whose “executive abilities” he was both proud of and trusted in during the final years of his life.
In 1956, Don was inducted into the Army and was prepared first in Fort Leonard Wood, MO, then shipped for basic training to Fort Hood, TX. He finished his training with first place honors in the graduation exercises of Fort Chaffee, AK, and completed his Army assignment as Private First Class.
After a stint as collegiate/teacher / bachelor in Sheboygan living it up with his dear friend Jerry Downey, Don met Annabelle Current when he directed her in a summer dinner theater-in-the-round production in Madison, and in 1963 they married. Together they had three children, Maria, Jeremy and Barnaby, and in 1969 moved with their young children from Madison to Racine when Don took a post as Professor of Speech and Drama at the newly founded University of Wisconsin-Parkside. While his first marriage ended in 1977, his move had sparked a lifelong love affair with his adoptive city and new hometown, Racine, WI.
After retiring from teaching, Don actively pursued his interests in historic research, landmark preservation, collection and display of festive decorations, and the simple pleasure of a well-brewed, cold beer. He greatly enjoyed the fellowship of other like-minds in associations such as Preservation Racine and The Golden Glow of Christmas Past. Such friends among many are Mary and Lou Whitman, Vivian and Tony Merlo, and Roberta and Jim Fiene, with whom Don carefully curated unique and nostalgic Christmas displays of their combined collections on and around the library tree at the annual Anderson Arts Center Festival of Trees. With his children, some of his best summer times were attending brew festivals, namely the Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison and the Great Lakes Brew Fest in Racine.
Among his lasting achievements: the successful effort to save the historic buildings of the DeKoven Center; originating the Racine Century Buildings program; and his published writings and historical research of significant Racine architecture.
Through the last thirty years of his life, Don loved sharing daily life, political and philosophical rants, and witty exchanges with his domestic partner, Gibby, until her death in 2011. Don and Gibby shared a rare devotion to and enjoyment of each other, and Don loved his home on College Avenue as much as he did his neighbors-cum-family, Karen and John Apple and Carole Johnson and Tinsley Ore.
Don, also known as “Bompapa” as named by his first grandchild, Anabella, is mourned and survived by:
His three children – Maria, Jeremy, and Barnaby, whom he loved in life more than he could fathom.
His two granddaughters – Anabella Maria and Carolina Maria, whom he absolutely adored.
His son-in-law Shawn, Maria’s husband, who was another son to him.
His daughter-in-law Tamara, Barnaby’s wife, who was as a second daughter.
Don’s life will be celebrated with storytelling, remembrances and food among his family, friends and close neighbors at an informal “Celebration of Life” at Assembly Hall in the DeKoven Center starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 27, 2014.
Honoring his wishes, his ashes will join Gibby’s under the Japanese Maple they planted together over ten years ago to mark their final resting place in the Secret Garden of St. John’s Chapel at the DeKoven Center.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Don’s memory may be offered toward an education fund for his grandchildren, Anabella “Long Legs” and Carolina “Toothless Too,” his third generation and living legacy.
His was a life well lived, his way, and he will be missed.
Maresh-Meredith and Acklam Funeral Home
803 Main St., Racine, WI (262) 634-7888