Louis Reith (1939-2022)

Louis John Reith was born on Sept. 11, 1939 at home in Deloit, IA, to Rev. Ferdinand and Elsie (Roschke) Reith. He grew up in California, MO, where he attended parochial and public school, and graduated from St. Paul Lutheran High School in Concordia, MO. Ludvik passed on at the age of 82, on May 27, 2022.

In 1955, he graduated from Concordia Senior College, Ft. Wayne, IN, in 1961; received a Master of Divinity degree from Concordia Seminary in 1966, a Master of Arts degree from Washington University in 1967, a PhD in Renaissance/ Reformation History from Stanford University in 1974, and a Master of Arts in Library Science degree from the University of Illinois in 1976.

His doctoral research was at Eberhard Karls University of Tuebingen, Germany from 1969-1974. He began his library career as a theological cataloger at Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, IN; continued as a cataloger at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, and at St. Bonaventure University, Olean, NY; and then worked as a rare book cataloger at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, where he retired in 2013 after 28 years.

Dr. Reith’s areas of scholarly research included the Lutheran Reformation in Germany and Central Europe, modern German intellectual and cultural history, and the history of Czechoslovak music and culture. His interest in Czech history and culture led him to take Czech classes from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. He published articles and book reviews in several journals, including the American Historical Review, Church History, and the Sixteenth Century Journal.

He belonged to a variety of professional associations and served on the boards of several of them. He gave historical presentations at international conferences; since 2004, he presented papers at SVU Congresses on topics such as the operas of Leos Janacek, the castle libraries in the Czech Republic and the court and culture of Emperor Rudolf II. Locally, he spoke on topics related to Nebraska history at Seward’s Fourth of July celebration. Dr. Reith began writing concert notes for the Embassy Series in Washington, D.C. and continued writing for them in retirement, as well as for several musical groups in the Lincoln/Omaha area.  He was active in Lutheran churches wherever he lived (he served as lay preacher in Allegany, N. Y.), and served as organist at many of them. 

He belonged to the Washington Chorus, and participated in three choirs in retirement:  the St. John Lutheran Church choir, the Lincoln Lutheran Choir, and the Seward, NE, Kiwanis KiTones.  He greatly enjoyed singing with the Lincoln Abendmusik chorus which recently sang Beethoven’s Ninth with the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Reith enjoyed working with students:  giving presentations on diplomacy at Georgetown University and helping judge high school academic competitions in Seward. 

A favorite retirement activity was interviewing Nebraska student applicants for Stanford University. While Dr. Reith demonstrated an ongoing interest in many areas of life, he is remembered above all for his genuine kindness and compassion for others. He made friends wherever he went. Dr. Reith is survived by his brother, Dr. Paul Reith (Roxanne) and by his sister, Anita Reith Stohs (Rev. Eugene), as well as nephews and a niece, and their children.

Louis Reith (Ludvik) served on the Board of Directors of the Society in the years 2012-2018.