This is a story that might never have been told and it will always be missing many key details. It does, however, have a happy ending. It is a story that needs to be told for those who knew and loved Karle Reinke and, more importantly, for those who never had the privilege of meeting or knowing this remarkable yet humble man. This is the story of a man who never knew his biological parents and was told of his adoption by his mother just before his own marriage. He found his adoption papers when cleaning out his father’s desk after his death. We’ll never know what range of emotions he experienced about the mystery of his parentage or about being adopted or his parents’ secrecy about it except that as an adult, he referred to the Reinkes as “those kind people who took me in.”
After several years of genealogical research, and countless letters and emails exchanged with kind and helpful strangers and one sympathetic judge, the basic facts of Karle Albert Reinke’s beginnings can be documented. It is a story he never knew and those who did know apparently took it with them to their graves. The birth parents also never knew what became of the life they created since his birth records were sealed and were never meant to be unsealed. The facts are laid out here with very little embellishment and just a bit of speculation. We may wish to know more, but must remember that it is only since Oprah that people feel the need to bare their souls to the world. Karle grew up in Minnesota among a private people during a more private time than today. This may be as much as we’ll ever know about Karle Reinke’s beginnings. His legacy, however, continues in the lives of his daughters, grandchildren and countless students. Had they known Karle’s story, his biological parents could have been very proud of the man their son became.