Yesterday the state of Indiana, and the United States of America, and the gun owners’ civil rights movement all lost one of their most accomplished sons. James Reinholt died in the quintessential heartland American town of Winamac, IN, where he was born in 1941.
In his younger days, Jim spent time as a policeman in the American Southwest, where he became a friend and protégé of such great gun experts and legendary lawmen as Bill Jordan and Charlie “Skeeter” Skelton, and earned their respect to the point where he progressed beyond being their student and became their peer and friend. Like them, he didn’t fear to go into the most dangerous situations, and the gunfights Jim won left him with a renewed value for human life. He taught people how to survive, in classes from Mexico to the American Midwest.
When Jim decided to devote his life to teaching – which he did, for four decades as a true mentor in venues from elementary school to Purdue – he never lost sight of the lessons that kept him alive in his earlier profession. Reinholt’s Range in Winamac was a true Backwoods Home gathering spot for everyone from factory workers to judges and millionaires, some coming to shoot an evening round of trap or skeet, and some coming for more serious pursuits. Before he became ill, Jim hosted an annual police combat match in which each scenario replicated some gunfight that had occurred in the past year between Indiana cops and dirtbags who tried to murder them. For many years, he hosted the Indiana State Championships of NRA Action Pistol shooting.
He taught cops and armed citizens alike to understand what they were fighting to return to when the chips were down: their family, their values, the people they loved. Jim’s long marriage to the brilliant Carol Reinholt was evidence of that. Together, they raised a bright and beautiful daughter and two fine sons, one of whom they tragically lost.
One of the most articulate men I ever knew – like Col. Jeff Cooper, Jim Reinholt always spoke in the same perfect diction in which he wrote – the erudite Reinholt was a compelling advocate for the civil rights we all fight for when he stood at the podium. His influence was recognized in 2004 when he was named a Sagamore of the Wabash, an Indiana accolade that any Hoosier understands and reveres. Jim Reinholt was living proof that being an intellectual and having common sense need not be mutually exclusive.
Condolences to his family. We have too few people like Jim Reinholt, and it’s not a cliché to say that his loss diminishes us all.