Walter Joseph Rhein was born December 30, 1915, to Casimir Constance (1877–1931) and Anna Louise Schmidt (1884–1975) Rhein in Nacogdoches, Texas. Casimir was born in Belleville, Illinois and Louise in Texas. Walter was one of six children, John C. (1910–1984), Rev. George Valentine (1912–2005), Walter, Helen Louise (Brookshire) (1909–2006), Elizabeth (Standish), and Charlotte (Richards) (1921–2011). Their maternal grandfather, John Schmidt, immigrated from Germany settling in Nacogdoches, Texas where he founded the Mayer and Schmidt Department Store in Nacogdoches. Walter, front center is shown with his parents and siblings in photo at right. (Back Row, L to R: John, Louise, George. Front Row: L to R: Elizabeth, Walter and Charlotte.
Walter Joseph Rhein, SJ, earned an AB from Rice University in 1936. He later appears as a student at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL. in 1940 Census. In 1940, Walter wrote an article, The Seismological Observatory at Spring Hill College, Bulletin of American Association of Jesuit Scientists, 18, 147–148. In 1910, as part of the JSS program, a seismographic station was established in Spring Hill College with a horizontal Wiechert seismograph of 80 kg of mass. The station was closed between 1935-39 and opened again in 1941 with two horizontal McComb-Romberg seismographs. Between 1939 and 1947 a meteorological station was installed. Walter J. Rheim was Director of the station in 1945. ( The “Romberg” was UT Professor Arnold Romberg.) Walter was also a ham radio operator. Somewhere around 1941–1942 Walter did graduate work at Fordham University in New York. He was awarded a masters of science at Fordham in 1943. He returned to Spring Hill as an instructor from 1943–1945.
Taking leave, he enrolled in graduate school at the University of Texas. He received his PhD in 1955. His dissertation was entitled, Angular Distribution of Fast Neutrons Scattered from Lead. It is likely that his supervising professor was Emmett Hudspeth.
Following receipt of his PhD, Walter returned to Spring Hill College to serve as Chairman of Physics from 1955–1969. From 1964–1965 Walter was a visiting professor at Florida Atlantic University.
In 1963, Walter wrote an article for AJP, Matching Undergraduates to Graduate Schools as Recommended by Conference on Curricula.
In 1969, he published a paper in The Journal of the Alabama Academy of Science, Vol. 40-42: A Computer Aid For Teaching Quantum Mechanics. He lists his affiliation as Spring Hill.
In 1969, he also published a paper, Temperature on the Surface of Binary Stars. The paper was co-authored with Kwan-Yu Chen (?-2007), Rosemary Hill Observatory, U. Florida. Walter’s affiliation was Department of Mathematical Sciences, Florida Technological University. He took a position there as Associate Professor of Computer Sciences in 1969. He apparently remained there until his retirement in 1984.
Walter’s research interest included neutron physics, astrophysics, undergraduate teaching and laboratory development, curriculum development, deterministic simulation, and numerical integration. He was a member of American Physical Society, Association of Computing Machinery, the Florida Audubon Society, Concert 90, Venice Area Audubon Society and was on the Board of Directors of Crosswinds, Condominium Association.
Walter died May 24, 2014, in Venice, Florida. He was 98 years of age. He is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Nacogdoches, Texas.
Comment about Walter Rhein from fellow student, Professor David Blackstock:
“Although it was long ago when I knew Walter Rhein--the years 1952–1954, when we were both graduate physics students at the University of Texas (Austin)—and only a brief part of both our lives, I remember him with great admiration and affection. We had several graduate physics classes together. He was a really sharp student. Despite a big difference in our ages (he was 15 years older than I), we had many interesting and pleasant conversations and discussions. At the time, he was Father Rhein to the rest of us graduate students. Although I (a Protestant) attended church infrequently, I recall speaking with him occasionally about his church activities. I learned, for example, that he was a Jesuit. As Christmas 1953 approached, I recall asking him what he was going to do over the holidays. While I was going to be celebrating the holidays with my family in Austin, he had service to perform. I think he was going to help out at a school for orphans or something like that, perhaps in Waco. I remember being very impressed.
After I left Texas for service in the Air Force and later finished my graduate work at another university, Father Rhein and I occasionally corresponded. I recall that he was at Spring Hill College in Mobile at the time. I greatly regret not having kept up our correspondence. He was a remarkable person. When, with the help of Professor Melvin Oakes, Professor Emeritus at University of Texas at Austin, I learned last year that Walter was still living and in Florida, I was greatly saddened about the state of his health. I should very much have liked to have been able to renew our friendship before he died.”
Walter Joseph Rhein Photo and Document Album
In Memory of
Mr. Walter Joseph Rhein, PhD, 98, formerly of Mobile, Alabama and Orlando, Florida passed away on May 24, 2014 in Venice, Florida. He was born on December 30, 1915 in Nacogdoches to parents Casimir C. Rhein and Louise Schmidt Rhein.
He graduated from Rice University, received a doctorate in physics from University of Texas and taught at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL for 15 years. He also was a computer science instructor at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL for 15 years, retiring in 1984. Walter was a member of the Florida Audubon Society, Concert 90, he was on the board of director of Crosswinds Condominium Association and member of Venice Area Audubon Society.
Survivors include his sister, Elizabeth Standish of Houston, Texas and many nieces and nephews.
A graveside service will be conducted by his nephew, Richard Standish at Oak Grove Cemetery at 1:00 pm on Saturday, May 31, 2014. Pallbearers will include Tom Standish, Richard Standish, Michael Standish, Glenn Standish, Hans Rasch and Robert Rasch .Interment will follow. Online condolences may be offered at www.casonmonk-metcalf.com. Funeral arrangements are under the direction and care of Cason Monk-Metcalf Funeral Directors.