Reinke Manufacturing founder dies

Richard F. Reinke, founder of Reinke, a leading manufacturer of mechanized irrigation systems, passed away at age 80, Feb. 27, 2003, in Deshler, Neb., after a lengthy illness, announced Ron Schardt, Reinke chief executive officer and chairman of the board. "Richard had remarkable influence both in business and the agricultural world," said Schardt, who also is Reinke's son-in-law. "He will be greatly missed, both as a professional mentor and as my friend." An inventor at heart and a legend in the agriculture industry, Reinke is considered the father of modern-day mechanized irrigation with his many product innovations that have become standards in the industry today. He designed the world's first fully reversible, electric-gear-drive center pivot system and patented the first V-jack truss design, changing the future of modern-day pivots. Reinke was born on June 16, 1922, and grew up on his 480-acre family farm in Byron, Neb. A self-taught engineer and draftsman, Reinke had an eighth-grade education. He began inventing at a young age in his father's machine shop, which helped shape his future in construction, engineering and irrigation. In 1982, he was honored by the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement for pioneering innovations in center pivot irrigation, and in 1985, he received the National Award for Agricultural Excellence. In 1985, Reinke developed a division of the company specializing in the manufacturing of over-the-road trailer/chassis equipment. With years of metal fabrication experience in both steel and aluminum, trailers and chassis were a seamless fit. Over the years, Reinke helped the company achieve 30 worldwide patents and many industry firsts, including the accomplishment of offering a stainless steel mainline pivot. Reinke watched the company grow from a handful of employees in its inception in 1954 to nearly 400 employees on an 80-acre state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Deshler, Neb., today. Reinke is survived by Edna, his wife of more than 55 years, five grown children and 16 grandchildren. Edna lives in Deshler, Neb., in the home her husband built more than 25 years ago. The Reinke family will select a memorial at a later date. Please send condolences to Reinke Manufacturing, Attention: Brenda Mesloh, PO Box 566, Deshler, NE 68340.

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