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Immanuel Lutheran High School, College and Seminary in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
When those outside of the ILC community think of Professor John Reim, they would likely visualize him in the front of a church directing a choir concert. When students or faculty at Immanuel picture John, they may imagine a man, papers in hand, running across campus. First impressions could lead one to think that he is running because he is late. However, for those who know John, his rapid transit from place to place is instead an indication of his approach and dedication to his work.
During his elementary and high school years, John attended several different schools in California as well as Immanuel Lutheran High School in Eau Claire. He continued his training at Immanuel Lutheran College to receive college and seminary degrees. After serving several years as pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Winter Haven, Florida, John accepted the call to return to his alma mater as professor, taking up this role in January 1988 and continuing to serve until May 2021. In 1997, John married Carolyn Gerbitz. They were blessed with three children, all of whom are now college age or older.
For thirty-three years at Immanuel, John was the director of both the mass choir and tour choir. Those who have attended an Immanuel choir concert have witnessed the enthusiasm and joy exhibited by John as he leads the students in their songs of praise. This joy and enthusiasm is often mirrored in the faces of smiling vocalists. Those who have had the privilege of attending many ILC concerts would have noticed that each concert was fresh and new. It seemed that every concert included a new, original composition from John. Many concerts also included songs from different cultures and musical styles from around the world. Without a doubt, selecting music and preparing concerts was a year-round marathon for John.
Although John’s most visible role was as choir director, he also taught music, German, Spanish, Greek, religion, piano, and organ classes. John was as energetic in his class presentations as in his choir directing. He could often be heard down the hall, his voice conveying an unmistakable liveliness as he engaged with his classes.
When students and staff recall Professor Reim, they will likely remember his chapel talks. His presentations were rich with the Gospel message. He often included a clever linguistic analogy or visual aid that assisted the hearer in understanding and remembering the spiritual message.
John was not content with standing still professionally, either. Although he had the equivalent of a Master’s degree by virtue of his seminary training, John took courses at the University of Wisconsin and earned a Master’s degree in Music. When Immanuel needed a Spanish teacher, John pursued training so that he could transition from teaching German to teaching Spanish. Many of his summers were spent taking advantage of professional development opportunities, literally around the world. Though a seasoned teacher with plenty of experience, John was always striving to learn new things to improve his work at Immanuel.
In addition to choir concerts, John impacted the lives of many CLC members by compiling the Worship Supplement (year 2000). Many of the hymns selected and liturgies written by John have become ingrained in the worship lives of CLC members and beyond.
Following the 2020-21 school year, John and Carrie plan to take up residence in the Milwaukee area. We thank the Lord for the work He accomplished through both of them, and wish His continued blessings on their family.
“Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!” (Ps 96:1) Thank you, Professor Reim, for helping so many of us sing songs of praise to our Lord!
Jeff Schierenbeck is a professor at Immanuel Lutheran College in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.