With heavy hearts, we announce the death of Frank Josef Reinhart, a man who always had a smile and kind word for everyone he met, a man who rarely disclosed the personal hardships he had endured.
Born in 1933 to Catherine and Frank Reinhart, in Obrovac, Yugoslavia, presently known as Serbia, Frank grew up with his brother, Carl, on an idyllic homestead lush with walnut, cherry, and apple trees for climbing. As the country began experiencing more and more political hostility, his parents prioritized a safe and loving childhood. After just a few months in kindergarten, his school was occupied by the Hungarian military and the children were sent home. Over the next five years, his primary education consisted of some classroom learning, with math and geometry learned mostly from his father and from his neighbor, a farmer, who later wrote a book about Obrovac.
As he got older, Frank learned about running the store, and helped out on a regular basis, listening to conversations among the adults with salesmen and soldiers about politics and other grown-up topics. While the home-store had electricity, there was no plumbing or telephone. A rare wireless radio (in the attic, since it had been outlawed) was used to keep up on current events, and to hear the German government propaganda.
Fascinated by the history of the German enclave living in Obrovac, Frank grew up speaking German at home. He learned Serbian in order to communicate with customers, and in 1941, when the Hungarians took over, he added a bit of Hungarian to his language repertoire. His father was fluent in all three languages.
Frank’s peaceful childhood came to an end on October 12,1944 when the partisans (Tito’s people), arrived to occupy the country. Frank’s family was forced to leave everything behind, and flee. They joined a caravan of 11 wagons pulled by 2 threshing tractors, 70 people in all, and Frank’s father soon became the leader, negotiating food, lodging, and fuel for the group.
Despite the chaos, Frank’s parents provided a loving and stable presence on the road that allowed him to view the whole experience through the eyes of an eleven year old boy, seeing this as an adventure. Along the way, villagers knew the wagons were coming through, and they made kettles of food for them, such as bean soup. There was a place to sleep every night. This was all interesting and exciting to Frank; he was never afraid for his life because he was with his family, whom he wholeheartedly trusted to protect him. In the end, they walked for seven months, sometimes riding on a cattle car, until they reached Bavaria, where they settled for a short time.
Frank’s mother and brother Carl had permission to go first to the US, and Frank and his father followed two years later, in 1947.
Reunited with his family in Glendale, California, Frank was 14 when he enrolled in 8th grade at Incarnation School. In the fall, he advanced to 9th grade at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School. By then he spoke English.
Frank graduated from Glendale High School in 1952 and enrolled at Glendale Community College. In 1954, he graduated and volunteered for the army. At that time, the Korean War was going on, and Frank served 2 years in Verdun, France.
After the war, Frank returned and met the love of his life, Eileen Shelburne, in 1956. A few movie and picnic dates later, he was smitten. They became engaged, and were married on Thanksgiving Day in 1957.
Frank attended UCLA and worked in accounting in the Los Angeles area. Together with Eileen, they raised six children in Glendale, Burbank, and the City of Los Angeles, working full time and also volunteering in food pantries. In 2016, Frank and Eileen moved to Quincy, CA, to be closer to their two daughters and their families.
During his years in Quincy, Frank volunteered at the Bargain Boutique and CAN food pantry, and was a member of St. John’s Catholic Church. Surrounded by Quincy’s beauty and four seasons, he was happy to live with Eileen in Northern California, where he settled in with ease, and continued to live out his lifelong mission of serving the hungry. His daily prayer before each meal was “And please, Lord, help us to serve at your table for all our hungry brothers and sisters throughout the world.”
Frank died at home on July 14, 2023, surrounded by his loving family. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Eileen, and his children Marcus (Mary), Julie (Wayne) Dudley, Cynthia (David) Tweedle, Karen (Randy) Hicks, Erich (Lorri), sixteen grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his son, Frank, and his grandson, Steven.
Catholic Rosary and Funeral Mass will be held in Quincy at St. John’s on Saturday, August 19, 2023, at 10am.