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Jerauld Reinhart, Merrillville theater icon, dies at 85

Jerauld Reinhart is shown orchestrpit theater named for him. | Post-Tribune File Photo

Jerauld Reinhart is shown in the orchestra pit at the theater named for him. | Post-Tribune File Photo

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Updated: March 15, 2014 6:32AM



Jerauld Joseph Reinhart, a retired music teacher and choir director at Merrillville High School and founder of Ross Summer Music Theatre, died Thursday. He was 85.

Reinhart, a Merrillville resident, was involved in all aspects of theater over the years, including set design and construction, direction and production. He put on dozens of shows ranging from “Sound of Music” to “Beauty and the Beast” to “Les Miserables.”

He pushed hard for a state-of-the art venue in which to present those shows, and in 1972 a new auditorium opened at Merrillville High School. It has since been named in his honor.

“He was a wonderful, wonderful person who made such a significant contribution to our high school performing arts program,” said Mark Sperling, superintendent of the Merrillville Community Schools Corp.

“He gave everything to his family and to his students at Merrillville High School for well over 50 years.”

Mike Reinhart, one of Jerauld Reinhart’s eight children, called his father one of the greatest men he’s known.

“Everyone thinks the world of their parents. I’m one of the few people who has the world think the world of their parents,” Mike Reinhart said.

Reinhart received several awards, including the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Singing Hoosiers and an Outstanding Teacher Award from Merrillville Lion’s Club.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Indiana University, a master’s degree from Roosevelt University and served two years in the U.S. Air Force.

His is survived by his wife of 62 years, Margilee, eight children and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Geisen Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 7905 Broadway, Merrillville, with a 6 p.m. prayer service.

Mass of Christian burial will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, 200 E. 78th Ave., Merrillville, with the Rev. Jon Plavcan officiating.

Entombment will be at Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville.



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