Member News

Obituary: Dr. Kenneth Reinschmidt (1938 - 2018)

by SAH News | Jul 09, 2019


Kenneth Frank Reinschmidt, PhD (Texas A&M University Professor Emeritus), an engineer and scholar, died December 31, 2018, at the age of 80. He was the first of two sons born to Christian Edward and Martha Marie Kellerman Reinschmidt in Cincinnati, Ohio. Ken grew up nurtured by descendants of immigrants from Baden, Germany, who came to Ohio in the 1850s. A great-great-grandfather served in the U.S. Civil War.

As a teenager, Ken worked in a Cincinnati branch library where he developed a lifelong satisfaction of being surrounded by books. Upon graduation from Woodward High School in 1956 as valedictorian and the top-ranked of 225 students, Ken received a scholarship from the newly established National Merit Corporation. He enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he participated in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, and graduated first in his in civil engineering class. Ken was president of the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a member of both Tau Beta Pi and Chi Epsilon, the engineering and civil engineering honorary societies. On graduating in 1960 he received a fellowship for advanced studies with employment in MIT’s new computer lab. He received his master’s degree in 1962 and doctoral degree in 1965 from MIT, and served on its civil engineering faculty until being called to active military duty.

From 1966 to 1967 Ken served as a Captain in the U.S. Army Transportation Corps, Washington DC, where he developed a computer based military logistics system that saved the government $250,000 in 1960’s dollars. He was awarded the Legion of Merit upon discharge from active duty.

Ken returned to the MIT faculty and research staff for several years and then went into engineering practice at the Stone and Webster Engineering Company, Boston MA, for what was to be a two-year period. There he introduced new computer aided engineering technology into the design, construction, and operation of buildings and power plants. He became senior vice president and started up a subsidiary company that developed advanced graphics, database, and expert systems. Ken took advantage of an early retirement opportunity to return to university teaching after more than twenty very satisfying years at an initial short-term job.

Ken happily came to sunshine and warmth on one of the first planes out of Boston after 9-11 to educate undergraduate and graduate students at Texas A&M University. He held the J.L. Frank Ashland Petroleum Chair and helped develop a new certificate program for advancing project management education across all engineering disciplines. He retired in 2014 and was named a Professor Emeritus.

During his career Ken mentored many students and colleagues who stayed in touch as they moved through their professional careers. He wrote or reviewed 150 technical papers and gave engineering testimony before a Congressional committee. In 1991 Ken was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the highest professional distinction that can be conferred on an engineer. He was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, Tau Beta Pi, Society of Architectural Historians, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Texas Academy of Medicine, Engineering, and Science.

As an engineer and scholar, Ken was interested in military and engineering history, archaeology, and travel. He self-studied Latin and Greek in order to read the classics in their original language. He visited many countries to explore engineering structures, lived more than thirty years in an antique house despite its antique electric and plumbing, and raised vegetables some of which he did not care to eat.
Ken Reinschmidt was fond of classical music, especially Beethoven. He and Marlene Faye Taub met in 1960 when both were college undergraduates. They married at U.S. Army Fort McNair on Beethoven’s birthday 1967 and were blessed to celebrate fifty-one Beethoven’s birthdays together.

Appreciation is extended to Doctors James Bonds, David Hackethorn, Angelo Sermas, and Denise Turner and the many compassionate nurses and helpers who cared for Ken during his residencies in health facilities the past two years. Burial in a Cincinnati family plot is being held privately and a memorial service in College Station will be held for friends and colleagues at a date to be announced. Ken is survived by his wife Marlene Reinschmidt in College Station and his brother Richard Reinschmidt in Cincinnati.

Ken Reinschmidt was deeply committed to advancing everyone’s education. In lieu of flowers, please consider supporting education at a university or school of your choice.

Dr. Reinschmidt joined SAH in 1970 and was a life member.  According to his wife Marlene, "The Society of Architectural Historians was an important part of his life.

He was proud to be a lifetime member and always read the Journal until he could no longer read."

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