Dr. Robert Reifschneider lived with a dedication to education. After a brief battle with cancer, Dr. Reifschneider died Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010. He was 80.
Dr. Reifschneider was born on Jan. 28, 1930, to the Rev. Henry and Freida Reifschneider in Omaha, Neb.
He met Jean, his wife of 56 years, on his first day of classes at Jamestown College in North Dakota. He continued his education with a master’s and a doctorate at the University of Nebraska.
Dr. Reifschneider spent his career educating others as a teacher, a principal, a superintendent and a college and university professor. After teaching at Texas A&I University in Kingsville, Dr. Reifschneider moved to Columbia with his wife and two children in 1965.
For the next 30 years, he served as a faculty member in the College of Education at MU, as a professor of educational administration and director of the Educational Placement Office. He retired as a professor emeritus.
"Bob quickly earned the obvious respect of the school personnel officials who came to the university seeking outstanding candidates for teaching and administrative positions," said Floyd Delon, professor emeritus of educational administration. "Besides his love for his work, Bob was devoted to his faith, his family and his friends. I never heard once Bob complain about his own problems."
Irv Cockriel, professor emeritus and interim department chairman of learning, teaching and curriculum at MU, said Dr. Reifschneider had a calling to work closely with people.
"He was a delight," Cockriel said. “He always had a smile and a story — I think that’s why he was successful.”
Cockriel said Dr. Reifschneider knew how to use past connections well, and one of the "pride points" of the placement program was having teachers, principals and superintendents in every county in Missouri.
"He was responsible for the launching of careers of literally thousands of teachers and administrators in Missouri schools," said Charles Koelling, dean of administration and continuing professional education.
Roger Harting, a past professor of educational administration, heard about Dr. Reifschneider before arriving at MU. Neil C. Aslin, a former district superintendent and Harting’s doctoral adviser, told him to meet with Dr. Reifschneider.
Harting said Aslin told him, “He is the one person around here that you really need to get to know.”
Harting gave the same advice to his students.
Norman Gysbers, curator's professor in the department of educational, school and counseling psychology at MU, commended Dr. Reifschneider for his efficiency and character.
“He, number one, cared very much about helping students," Gysbers said.
Dr. Reifschneider's fellow faculty also noticed his strong teaching skills.
"He motivated students to achieve at their highest potential," said Lonnie Echternacht, professor emeritus of curriculum and instruction.
After retiring, Dr. Reifschneider and his wife spent winters in Texas and visited their daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter in Europe. While in Columbia, they attended Fairview United Methodist Church, where Dr. Reifschneider and his wife were members for 45 years.
Dr. Reifschneider shared a strong friendship with a group of retired men from the College of Education. They met at McDonalds every Thursday morning, but it has been "a year of sad losses" for the group, said Peter Hasselriis, professor emeritus of curriculum and instruction.
When Dr. Reifschneider was hospitalized, Hasselriis said, the men called him from McDonalds to encourage him.
"We will miss his constant good humor, his adventures with his computer, his travel stories and the glow that came over him when he talked of the long Skype conversations with his granddaughter," Hasselriis said. "Thursdays won’t ever be the same."
Dr. Reifschneider is survived by his wife, Jean; his sister, Ruth Herzog; his daughter and son-in-law, Laura and Piet van der Meer; his granddaughter, Grace; his daughter-in-law, Brenda Reifschneider; and his grandson, Cody.
His son, Thomas Neil Reifschneider, died earlier this year. Memorials to Dr. Reifschneider may be made in his son’s name.
Memorials may be sent to the Missouri Cancer Associates, 1705 E. Broadway, Columbia, MO 65201. Tributes can also be left online at www.memorialfuneralhomeandcemetery.com.
Services are pending.