Harry F. Reinert Jr., born May 21, 1929, passed away May 15, 2020 — one week shy of his 91st birthday—after a year-long battle with cancer. His oldest son, Harry III and step-daughter Laura were at his bedside when he died peacefully after declaring “Let’s get on with this.”
Harry was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas on May 29, 1929, to Harry Reinert Sr. of Wisconsin and Juanita Pearl Barnes of Hot Springs. Harry enlisted in the Army in 1946, after graduating from high school and was posted to the Army’s 298th Band in Berlin and enrolled at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale Illinois in the fall of 1948 after his army service. He moved to Seattle in 1951 with his first wife, Rosalie, and his infant son Harry III in pursuit of a Ph.D. in Philosophy. When the Ph.D. appeared to be unobtainable due to changing circumstances, he took the advice of one of his professors and decided to become a high school teacher. In 1957, he began his 30-year career at Edmonds High School where he found his true calling. Harry and Rosalie had four more sons from 1956 through 1967, Tom, Ted, Andrew and Rick, but then separated and divorced in 1969.
As a child, in the army and in college he had enjoyed performing in public and teaching came naturally to him. And it didn’t hurt that Harry genuinely liked his students. Over the years he taught English, Journalism, Latin and German. He had high standards and expected a lot from his students, but he also wanted them to have fun and did everything he could to make learning enjoyable. Many former students stayed in touch with him over the years.
Harry was never satisfied with the status quo and was always testing limits. In the army, he had his small rebellions — a tarnished belt buckle or scuffed shoes — that held back his promotion. In the classroom, he thought he could improve on the Latin textbooks, so he wrote his own which he persuaded the Edmonds School District to print. He came to the same conclusion about available German textbooks. He wrote his own which AMSCO published in 1971. He also had an insight into how students learn, recognizing that different students learn best in different ways. Using each student’s learning styles, he tailored lessons to his or her strengths, and in the early ‘70s developed ELSIE (Edmonds Learning Styles Identification Exercise), which received both national and international recognition, including translation into multiple languages.
Through a fortunate circumstance of mutual acquaintance not long after his divorce, Harry met MaryAnne Porter whom he married on Halloween of 1969. This whirlwind romance turned into a marriage that lasted for 44 years, until MaryAnne’s death in July of 2013. Harry and MaryAnne set up house in Seattle’s Wedgewood neighborhood and the following summer they had their son Lionel. They moved to Vashon Island after he retired from teaching in 1988.
Following MaryAnne’s death, he moved to West Seattle and then to Mill Creek.
As with any parent, Harry embarrassed his children at times. He was a kind person who had a love of life, a “real talent” for it as he would say. He threw himself passionately into new adventures and interests and enjoyed exploring new ideas. And he was never afraid to admit to his mistakes.
Perhaps the defining aspect of Harry’s character was his unrelenting optimism.
Harry is survived by his sons Harry III, Tom, Ted, Andrew, Rick and Lionel, his step-daughters Laura and Ruth, five grand-children Heather, Kevin, Jeanette, Madelyne and Nickolas, and four great-grandchildren Gary, Iris, Levi, and Benjamin. Harry asked that his ashes be scattered near a favorite fishing spot along Icicle Creek near Leavenworth, where he and MaryAnne spent many enjoyable vacations.
Donations in Harry’s name can be made to KNKX-FM, the station he was listening to when he passed away.
More details of Harry’s life can be found at dignitymemorial.com