Cover photo for Dr. Joseph G. Reish's Obituary
Dr. Joseph G. Reish Profile Photo
1944 Dr. 2023

Dr. Joseph G. Reish

April 18, 1944 — March 5, 2023

Portage, Michigan

Dr. Joseph G. Reish, age 78, of Portage, passed away peacefully on March 5, 2023 in the presence of his loving family. Joe was a rare combination of an erudite academic who placed great importance on education; a gregarious, generous, and kind soul who put the needs of others before his own; and the life of the party who sought to bring humor to others without trying to steal the limelight. Joe touched many lives over a long career in academics, music, theatre, and volunteer work.

He was born on April 18, 1944, in Sunbury, PA, the son of George E. and Julia (Wohlheiter) Reish and grew up in Lewisburg, PA. Joe graduated from Lewisburg High School in 1962 where he was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008. He received an A.B., cum laude, from Georgetown University in 1966 having been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, an M.A. in French Language and Literature from Middlebury College Paris Program in 1967, and a Ph.D. in Eighteenth Century French Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1972. Joe arrived at Western Michigan University (WMU) and remained there for the next 45 years, serving as a professor of French, Dean of the Lee Honors College from 1992-2002, and as Dean of University Libraries prior to his retirement in 2016. Throughout a long career Joe was the recipient of numerous academic awards and honors. In 1994 the Prime Minister of France, upon the recommendation of the Minister of Education, awarded him the title of Knight (Chevalier) in the French Ordre des Palmes Académiques. In 2015 he was promoted to the rank of Officier (Officer). A Medallion Scholarship was named for Dr. Reish and his wife, Helene, honoring his critical role in the Medallion Competition Process. He received the WMU Distinguished Service award in 2015 acknowledging a lifetime commitment to advancing WMU.

Joe loved music and theater and performed with the Kalamazoo Civic Players, KVCC Players, Kalamazoo College Theater, and the Comstock Players. He also served as president of the University Theatre Guild and on the Executive Board of the Crescendo Academy of Music.

He was active in community organizations including United Way, Boy Scout Troop 205, the Alliance Française de Kalamazoo and as a volunteer for St. Catherine of Siena Church.

On December 30, 1978, he married Helene Kudzia. He is survived by his wife Helene, along with their children: Dr. Nicholas J. (Dr. Heather E. Allen) Reish and Alexander E. (Anne Bonfield Kearney) Reish; his sister, Barbara (Robert) Spangler; his brother, Andrew (Ann) Reish Esq.; nieces Dominique and Michelle Kudzia, Maribeth Schaffer, nephews Dr. Andrew Reish, instrumental in his rehabilitative care, and David Spangler who facilitated his wish to attend his sixtieth high school reunion.

The family will greet friends on April 20, 2023, from 5:00-7:00 PM at Langeland Family Funeral Homes, Westside Chapel, 3926 S. 9th Street, with a prayer service at 6:30 PM. A memorial service will be held there on April 21, 2023, at 11:00 AM, followed by a luncheon. Memorials may be directed to Trauma Recovery Associates (1608 Lake St., Kalamazoo, MI 49001), WMU, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra or St. Catherine of Siena Church.

Please share memories of Joe with his family at www.langelands.com

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. Joseph G. Reish, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Thursday, April 20, 2023

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

Langeland Family Funeral Home Burial & Cremation Services

3926 South 9th Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Prayer Service

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Starts at 6:30 pm (Eastern time)

Langeland Family Funeral Home Burial & Cremation Services

3926 South 9th Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Service

Friday, April 21, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

Langeland Family Funeral Home Burial & Cremation Services

3926 South 9th Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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