|A Science Fiction Fanzine||Winter 2008|
Julius Henry "Hank" Reinhardt, 73, a widely known authority on medieval arms and armor, and an icon of Southern science fiction fandom for over 50 years, died Tuesday morning (October 30, 2007) at an Athens, GA, hospital following complications of heart surgery.
Known widely as "Hank," he had written numerous articles on swords and knives, and was in the process of writing a book on the history and use of the sword at the time of his death. He produced two videos with Paladin Press on the sword, and was a columnist for Blade magazine on swords in the movies. He was a cofounder of the mail order business Museum Replicas, Ltd. and a consultant to many sword makers. Unlike many experts, Reinhardt insisted on actually making and testing the weapons he wrote about, and through his various activities he has been instrumental in increasing the popularity of arms and armor in mainstream America.
Hank, born and raised in Atlanta, was a founder of the first Atlanta science fiction club, ASFO, organized in 1950. Since then he has been guest speaker and entertainer at numerous science fiction conventions, where he staged panels on medieval arms and armor, plus exhibitions of the fighting techniques of that era, most recently at Dragoncon in Atlanta in September.
Reinhardt also founded units of the Society for Creative Anachronisms, a medieval re-enactment society, in Alabama, where he lived for many years, Georgia, and Louisiana. He received numerous awards for activities in science fiction and for his work with bladed weapons, most recently the Industry Achievement Award given at the 2006 Blade Show in Atlanta. Hank will appear in the Reclaiming the Blade documentary due for release in 2008.
A sword and knife buff from early teen age, Reinhardt received an education in both during Army service in Europe in the 1950s, visiting famous museums. Upon returning to the United States, he worked at various jobs before meeting Bill Adams, founder and president of Atlanta Cutlery. Together in the 1980s they launched Museum Replicas Ltd., making accurate and battle-ready replicas of medieval weapons, and selling them via mail order throughout the world. Reinhardt enlisted as a business contact Ewart Oakeshott, the head curator of the Tower of London Armories. Oakeshott wrote the authoritative book on European swords, and at the time Reinhardt was the only outsider allowed to enter the Armories and make photographs of its treasures. Because of these visits, Museum Replicas, Ltd. for years made quality arms and armor.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Janet. He is survived by wife Toni Weisskopf Reinhardt; two daughters, Dana Gallagher and Cathy Reinhardt; grandchildren, Hannah and Owen Gallagher; and the many, many friends he made throughout his life.
Services will be held Saturday 3 p.m. at Bernstein Funeral Home, Athens, Georgia.
This obituary was written by Jerry Proctor, retired editor of the Birmingham News. It is, of course, skillful and comprehensive. But as Jerry would be the first to state, his lines only hint at the breadth and depth of the Reinhardt story. When, on November 2, he and I joined many others in eulogizing "the wolflord," each speaker came at Hank's life from a different angle, illuminating part of his legend. None of us, alone, was up to the task of summing up the whole package. Perhaps the lot of us couldn't do it. Summing up any human being is a task beyond mere mortals, especially when the human being is such a gigantic soul as Hank's.
What made Reinhardt "gigantic" was not the outlandishness of his SCA persona -- Ulric of Wolfhaven the Conan-esque Wolflord. That personality was indeed larger than life. But it only reflected Hank's total commitment to a life of courage, humor, tolerance and integrity. His hugeness was a matter of spirit. He never refused a friendship. He never betrayed a trust. He devoted himself to his family and his friends. If Hank was celebrated for being a character, he was loved for being a man of character.
Hank's accomplishments in life and fandom -- substantial though they were -- weren't the point. His example is what mattered. Several of "his boys" spoke at his funeral of Hank's qualities as a teacher. They went to him as teenagers for instruction in knife-fighting and stayed for lessons in manhood, on how to live with -- again -- courage, integrity, humor and tolerance.
SF fans learned from him, too. Hank was Southern fandom's Main Man, its center, its mentor, its model, not only our senior dude but the guy who showed us how it was done -- how to be a fan. SFers and anachornists must constantly deal with the contumely of the world. Hank had the answer for that. Courage to create the self you want to be -- the integrity to live life as that self -- the humor to understand the bafflement of the uninitiated -- and the tolerance to let others be themselves in return. For no matter how he argued with your politics, he never refused an opponent his good will.
I was Hank Reinhardt's friend for 35 years. I cannot imagine fandom -- life -- without him.
Hank's widow, Toni Weisskopf, is collecting donations for the education of his grandchildren, at 196 Alps Rd. #2-385, Athens GA 30606.