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Obit: John Allan Reinertsen, 89, of West Bend. His quick wit and impish grin lightened every room he entered.


April 4, 2017 – West Bend, WI – John Allan Reinertsen, 89, died peacefully at his home in West Bend, Wisconsin on April 2, 2017.

He devoted his life to serving others and was known for his ready smile, genuine kindness, and caring demeanor. An extraordinary leader and visionary, he led multiple institutions to greater heights and provided countless hours of service to numerous cultural and professional organizations.

John was born in Chicago, Illinois on March 14, 1928 to the late Peter Amos Reinertsen and Mabel Carlson Reinertsen.  A lover of the outdoors and an Eagle Scout, John served in the Army Air Forces following high school and later graduated from Augustana College, Rock Island, Il, and Northwestern University, Evanston, Il from which he obtained, respectively, his Bachelor’s degree and Master’s in Hospital Administration.

John married Joann Johnson in June 1953 and began his career in hospital administration at Evanston Hospital, a teaching hospital along Chicago’s North Shore. He was a Deacon of the First Presbyterian Church, a member of the Rotary Club and he served on the Illinois Hospital Association and the American Hospital Association.  Children John and Carolyn were born in Evanston.

His family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1970 when John was named Executive Director of the University of Utah Hospital where he later became CEO and served as well in the capacity of Assistant Vice President of Health Sciences, having transformed a small county hospital into a major teaching hospital and medical center. There, he continued his involvement in Rotary and AHA, and was an examiner and/or board member for AAMC, COTH, JCAHO, NIH and UHC.  John underwent major cancer surgery at the age of 47 and overcame numerous additional health obstacles with the optimism, fortitude and perseverance that became his signature.

Upon his retirement in the early 90s, the University of Utah honored him with Emeritus status. He continued to serve on numerous boards until his interests in woodworking, fly fishing, and hiking won out.  John delighted in the mountains of the West, the woods of the North and all creatures great and small.  A proponent of open space, he traveled with family and friends to numerous national parks and monuments, state parks and forest preserves. He cherished refreshing summers on Lake Michigamme in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where family and friends gathered annually, observing the wildlife, weather and changing seasons. John was a gifted carpenter and artist and his home and furnishings were a testament to his capabilities. A keen eye for design and aesthetic were valuable to the architects at work, prominent in his home, and evident in his sartorial style.  His quick wit and impish grin lightened every room he entered. John was known as the consummate gentleman and will be missed by all with whom he came in contact.

John was preceded in death by his parents, wife of nearly 60 years, Joann, and brother Philip; he leaves behind his children, John (Kayce) and Carolyn (Thomas Gruba), grandchildren, John (R. Anne Farner) and Charles Reinertsen, Jeffrey and David Gruba, and great grandchild, Molly Joann Reinertsen, two nieces, a nephew, their spouses and offspring.

No services are scheduled.  Donations may be made in his memory to The Nature Conservancy, University of Utah Health Sciences Center, Augustana College, Northwestern University, or the arts organization or charity of choice.


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