Dr. Eberhard Reichmann
Named 2009 Hoosier German - American of the Year
(December 8, 1926 - October 16, 2009)
Eberhard Reichmann received the award from his good friend Dr. Giles Hoyt on October 7, 2009. He passed away on October 16, 2009, at Hospice in Columbus, surrounded by family and friends. Eb was born December 8, 1926 in Stuttgart Germany and emigrated to the United States in 1953. He met his future wife, Ruth Backmund, a Bavarian, while both were attending the University of Cincinnati.
They were married on Dec. 21, 1956 and stayed together for over fifty years despite their friends and fellow students' warning that this marriage would not last. Not only did they have a happy marriage, they also developed over the years a great working partnership. The mix of personality and interests made them an extremely productive couple.
In 1959 Eberhard completed his doctorate in German Studies and started his career at Indiana University Bloomington, where he taught for 32 years, retiring in 1991. His retirement was in name only since he continued as an active scholar and teacher, producing numerous books, articles, and lectures, mostly in the field of German-American Studies.
During his long career at Indiana University Dr. Reichmann helped popularize and develop the field of German Studies. He served as Research Director for the improvement of the Teaching of German in the US and was founding editor of the significant pedagogical journal Unterrichtspraxis: Journal for the Teaching of German. Later as the director of the Institute of German Studies at IU, he helped bring about the recognition of German Culture Studies as an integral part of the curriculum. In the 1980s he and his wife Ruth delved deep into the German background of Indiana and helped to understand and preserve that heritage. Together with Ruth he served the German and international community of his beloved Indiana in many capacities.
Eb Reichmann was fully engaged in life. A talented musician, he was able to play several instruments. He wrote eloquently and prolifically in English, German, and his native Swabian dialect. As an editor he saw the publication of several books rarely missing a phrase that was out of line or an inappropriately used word. He served as the Chief Editor of the IUPUI Max Kade German-American Center and the Indiana German Heritage Society, both of which he was a co-founder. The Reichmanns helped fund an endowed professorship in German-American Studies at IUPUI, an example of their generosity and dedication.
Eberhard Reichmann held many honors because of his considerable accomplishments. Among them are the Federal Cross of Merit First Class from the Federal Republic of Germany, College Teacher of the Year in 1990 from the Indiana Association of Teachers of German, the Distinguished Service Award from the Society for German-American Studies. Shortly before his death he also was named Hoosier German-American of the Year by the IGHS.
He is survived by his wife, Dr. Ruth Reichmann, their two children, 4 grandchildren and a great-grandson.
A celebration of Eberhard's life was held on November 18th at the Athenaeum in Indianapolis featuring members of the Athenaeum Pops Orchestra, Indianapolis Liederkranz and Liederkranz Damenchor, the Indianapolis Männerchor, and a number of speakers, including Indiana Poet Laureate Norbert Krapf who read two poems including "Eberhard Reichmann at Peter's Gate."