November 14, 2017

Thomas Edward Rinkevich

Rinkevich, ThomasThomas Edward Rinkevich was born in Grand Rapids Michigan and received his A.B. at Xavier University in Ohio in 1964, an A.M. at Ohio State University in 1966, and a Ph.D. in Classics at Ohio State in 1973. After working as a Mail Carrier for the Postal Service in 1966, he began his career in the Classics Department at University of Nebraska in 1967. He was made Assistant Professor of Classics in 1973, promoted to Associate Professor in 1996, and retired in 2015 with Emeritus of Classics, after 48 years of faithful service to countless students of Greek language and literature, Latin language and literature, and numerous other subjects, including Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, and Mythology. Thomas was beloved by several generations of students and colleagues, who enjoyed the depth and breadth of his knowledge and his love for wisdom, and basked in his limitless kindness and his indefatigable sense of humor.

His excellence as a teacher warranted him several nominations for the American Philological Association’s Excellence in Teaching award, and led to his receiving the College of Arts and Sciences Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1991. He also received three UNL Parents Association teaching awards, in 1992, 2002, and 2004, and the J. Wellington Wimpy Award in 1996, testifying to his ongoing dedication to pedagogical excellence.

In his many years of service at UNL, Thomas served on countless committees, including the Faculty Senate and the University Marshalls, and bore the responsibility of acting Chair of the department at least four times. He was an important contributor to the sustenance and growth of the Classics Department, and thereafter of the Classics and Religious Studies, always ready to teach extra courses when the students’ needs exceeded the Department’s means. After his retirement, the Department honored his dedication to service to the students with the Thomas Rinkevich Memorial Award for Exceptional Service.

He initiated an informal social group he named the “Secret Seneca Society,” membership of which was open to anyone devoted to Ancient literature and thought, which has functioned as an unofficial alumni group for his many students. Thomas was also a faithful participant in the Latin Mass in the diocese of Lincoln, and readily gave his talents as a Latinist as they were needed. He enjoyed playing the violin and piano, and enthusiastically participated in the Lincoln Shape Note Singing Society.  He had a passion for gardening, travel, and bird watching.

He married Virginia Lee Uzendoski  in 1971 and was a loving father to Xavier Thomas Rinkevich, Mary Genevieve Rinkevich, Katharine Concepción Wilson, Roseanne Magdalene (Sean Thomas) Horton. He delighted in being grandfather to Emma Rose Potter. He is predeceased by his parents, Edward Francis Rinkevich and Magdalene Barbara (Vidro) Rinkevich, James Robert, his brother, and by Xavier Thomas and Mary Genevieve, his children, and is survived by Magdalene Theresa Bumford, his younger sister.

There will be a funeral Mass at 10:00 am, Saturday, November 18, 2017 with a Rosary beginning at 9:30 am at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 1145 South St in Lincoln, NE.  Burial will be at Wyuka Cemetery, 3600 O St, Lincoln, NE.  In lieu of flowers the family invites contributions to the University of Nebraska Foundation’s Thomas E. Rinkevich Memorial Fund, which will be dedicated to student scholarship awards.


  1. My heartfelt condolences to Thomas’s family.
    Thomas and I began our careers at the same time, and for 50 years I enjoyed his company as a fellow scholar & educator but also as a kindly friend. For many decades we celebrated together New Year’s Eve, Independence Day, & Groundhog Day. We also shared parts of some summers in northern Wisconsin, where he amazed me with his erudite bird-watching. He presided over the weekly meetings of the Secret Senecans club with wit, geniality, & gentleness. He has left a vacancy which cannot be filled.

  2. Prayers and thoughts are with your family at this difficult time. Professor Rinkevich was very special and I enjoyed knowing him.

  3. We loved him and his care for us as students, grad students, and “adults.” A light has gone out, but we will always remember him for his humor, his smile, and his witty replies. God’s speed, Dear one.

  4. Audited a course with him many years ago. A kind man generous with his time.

  5. “They’ve come up with a new scale of beauty, the millihelen. It’s a face beautiful enough to launch one ship.”

    He told me that joke 34 years ago in his Latin class. I think he laughed harder than anyone else. He was a joyful and sweet man as I knew him and I feel impoverished by his loss. My condolences to his family.

  6. Dear Rinkevich Family, I want to extend my deepest sympathy on the loss of
    Thomas. May you find peace and comfort from the good memories you have
    of him. Our creator is a God of love who understands your pain and
    will give you the strength to cope with your loss. Prayer to God for comfort
    along with your fond memories will help you to endure Thomas’ passing.
    We can look forward to the time when sickness and death will be no more.
    This wonderful promise is stated in the Bible at Revelation 21:3,4.
    Another promise is made in John 5:28,29 where it states that those in God’s
    memory will be resurrected. I hope these loving promises will provide
    hope and comfort for you during this sad time.

  7. I am so sorry for the loss of Thomas Rinkevich, someone who was loved deeply by many, and he will always be remembered. Especially by Jehovah God, while I may never know the pain and grief you feel, be assured that God knows exactly how you feel, and he wants to provide you comfort. I found comfort from God’s word the Bible, in John 5:28, 29 it says in part “the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, …to a resurrection of life.” So one day we will be able to see our loved ones again and we will be able live in perfect health on a paradise earth filled with peace and happiness. Never again will we experience the pain caused by our greatest enemy death, and forever we will experience the joy of life.


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