Joseph Frederick Reifenrath, age 95 of Hartington, Nebraska, died peacefully surrounded by his family on Monday, December 23, 2019 at the South Lake Village in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Mass of Christian Burial will be on Saturday, December 28, 2019 at 10:30 am at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Hartington with Rev. Owen Korte officiating. Burial will be in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Hartington. Visitation will be on Friday from 5:00 to 8:00 pm with a Vigil Service at 7:00 pm at the church. Visitation will begin one hour prior to services on Saturday at the church. The Wintz Funeral Home in Hartington is assisting with the arrangements. Memorials may be made to the Msgr.Werner Endowment Fund, in lieu of flowers.
Pallbearers will be Isaac Reifenrath, Andrew Reifenrath, Brandon Griess, Grant Leise, Nathan Asselin, Bobby Reifenrath, and Lucas Reifenrath. Honorary pallbearers are Joseph’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Joseph Reifenrath was born on August 30, 1924, the youngest of John G. and Julia Helena (Imoehl) Reifenrath’s ten children. He grew up on the family farm in the St. James area where he attended Ss. Philip and James Catholic Elementary and graduated from Wynot High School in 1942.
He married Donna Potts on April 11, 1950 at Ss. Philip and James Catholic Church in St. James, NE. They have celebrated over 69 years of marriage and were blessed with nine children. Joe continued to farm until his retirement in January 1994 when he and Donna moved to Hartington.
Joe was a life-long farmer and did custom hay hauling in the area. He was a member of the Ss. Philip and James Catholic Church in which he was a mass server, choir member, church trustee and parish council member. He was instrumental in forming a bus route for East Catholic Elementary School and he was a volunteer bus driver. Joe was also instrumental in getting kindergarten started in the Catholic School system as well as being a member of the Knights of Columbus. He was a charter member of the Cedar County Catholic Schools & Parishes Blue Ribbon Development Committee.
Joe enjoyed baseball. He formed and played on the St. James baseball team and managed and coached the boys’ junior league. He was a certified umpire of the Cedar County baseball league and bowled on the St. James bowling team.
Joe cherished time with his family and friends. He loved to dance. His feet were always moving on the dance floor with his favorite partner Donna or anyone else who could possibly keep up with him! Joe took great pleasure in playing cards with his grandchildren and never missed a good opportunity for a game of Sheephead (Schafkopf) with his friends.
Catholic education and his faith have always been a priority to him. Prayer and passing on the faith were special gifts from his parents that Joe taught his family to honor. Joe sought to reach out and touch others in order to bring them closer to Christ. No one was a stranger to him.
He will be greatly missed by his wife Donna; eight children and spouses, Thomas (Janette) Reifenrath of Eagle, NE, Kathleen (Thomas) Roemer of Leavenworth, KS, John Reifenrath of Lincoln, NE, Joe J. (Carol) Reifenrath of LaVista, NE, Mary (Jeff) Leise of Hartington, NE, Nancy (Jeff) Asselin of Lincoln, NE, Donald (Penny) Reifenrath of St. James, NE, Michael (Sarah) Reifenrath of St. James, NE; son-in-law, Ron (Jill) Griess; 27 grandchildren; 28 great grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; eight sisters and one brother; daughter Jean Marie Griess; daughter-in-law Jolene Reifenrath and infant grandson Matthew Reifenrath.
Joe lived simply, loved generously, cared deeply, and prayed daily.