Foster Rinefort '54 and '56

  • Foster Rinefort
    Foster: I am Foster Rinefort, Foster C. Rinefort Jr. I currently live in Charleston, Illinois. A professor emeritus, retired professor, Business Management, at our college of business and a member of two different classes of Grinnell--class of 1954 and class of 1956. It was fairly predictable that I would come to Grinnell College. My great-grandfather had come here from Germany to north of Grinnell, a homestead, and farmed and was killed in the cyclone of 1878, ’82 I believe it was. My grandfather did not want to farm, started a clothing store in town, in what is now the Spencer building which is in downtown Grinnell.
  • Foster Rinefort
    Foster: During the Depression, the business failed and he sold products, agricultural products, to local farmers for the rest of his life. Passed away in 1953. My father came to Grinnell, he was born here, and spent his childhood here, played athletics, did athletics at the high school, state championship in track, cross country. Track was shot put, discus and 100-meter in state record time. Played basketball. Went on to the College with an athletic scholarship, which was his way of getting the opportunity to go to college and played football for Grinnell. When they played in Missouri Valley, when they played Kansas, and Kansas
  • Foster Rinefort
    Foster: State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Drake, and Grinnell. The other teams hated for to have to have to this little tiny town and play football here, but they did. And Grinnell hated to go to the other places and play football because they got really beat up. Played basketball and was a star athlete in track and was open-champion at the Drake Relays and many international meets and a participant in the Olympic Trials, or the 1924 Olympics. So, when it came my turn to go from suburban Chicago to college it was pretty much preordained that it would be Grinnell College. So that’s a little bit
  • Foster Rinefort
    Foster: about my background. And so I came here in 1950, Clark Hall. And we had good times, interesting times. I played a little basketball, track, worked in the Quadrangle Dining Room, and studied, some my freshman year. More my sophomore year. Much more my junior year. I had my military service, came back in 1955 and became very, very motivated to complete my studies in History and a strong minor in business management—just business. (So, with equal hours in both.) And went on to a career in industry, thinking that’s what I would do for the rest of my life. Was
  • Foster Rinefort
    Foster: a manager at the plant level with Proctor and Gamble in St. to be more engineers and less creative types such as us. Louis, a very dynamic organization. The plant manager, a young man a little older than I was at the time, went on to be Vice-President of Production for the corporation. He was happy to inherit liberal arts people from Knox College, Grinnell College, so two of us, and I recruited another, Jud Strickland, and from students of those types. And he looked us over and felt that he would do better with chemical engineers than with liberal arts types, so through the years he managed to turn the organization around
  • Foster Rinefort
    Foster: With that background, though, I went up to my hometown, to Chicago, and I worked through ten years as a corporate manager with IMC Global, a worldwide international firm that mined, processed, and sold agricultural chemicals. The Green Revolution is what we were doing at the time, trying to feed the world. And we felt we did a fairly good job with that, with imports, exports from our mines in Florida, opens mines in Florida, open pits in Florida and New Mexico, underground mining in New Mexico and Canada, and nitrogen potash from the western states, phosphates from the eastern states, nitrogen in Louisiana.And we did truly try to
  • Foster Rinefort
    Foster: be an important part with the agricultural chemicals, of doubling agricultural production, and trying to feed the world, including a processed chemical plant and operation in India, the largest western-based operation in India. The Russians put a steel mill up in the northern part of the country. Following their plans, we put an agricultural chemicals or fertilizer plant up in the southern part of the country on the east coast, on ocean, Visai. Tried to bring food production in India up to acceptable levels and reduce starvation. So throughout the world, we had operations that tried to pursue this goal.
  • Foster Rinefort
    Foster: And then with my interest and background in risk management, personnel and risk management, I went back to school, finished an MBA, Cal State in San Francisco. My doctorate and engineering degree, industrial safety degree from Texas A and M, and came back home to Illinois—to Eastern Illinois—to visit and to work and teach, write and continue research. And so Grinnell…Surely without background of my time at Grinnell, I would not have returned to school and not have changed careers to be a professor of management and MBA programs So I came into Grinnell a young kid, maybe a little cocky, I don’t know, but reasonable, curious person. And left with an excellent degree
  • Foster Rinefort
    Foster: and excellent education and motivation to pursue a life that has been interesting, rewarding, and challenging. And we…Our children have gone on to continue the interest in both athletics and scholarship. My son is now middle management with UnitedHealth in Southern California, Laguna Niguel, and raising three wonderful children. Oldest is sophomore in high school, runner (cross country and track). Second, Molly, a soccer player, very aggressive, very tough, and coming to soccer camp in Notre Dame this summer. And the third, Jenny, is what we call the love of the family. She is an absolute sweetheart, and dances. My daughter lives in Bloomington, Indiana and she and her husband Tom
  • Foster Rinefort
    Foster: have raised (Varns is the last name), have raised two boys. Oldest is running today, June 4, 2010, running in the state high school track meet in Bloomington, Indiana, for the state, and competitive and league, 4 by 100, 4 by 400 mile relay team, 4 by 440 yard or 400 meters, and they’re competing for the state title today, and that should be exciting. The youngest, Andrew, is preparing to begin bicycling next week, bicycling with a group of his people from town, from Seattle to Los Angeles,and so that should keep him out of trouble for three weeks.My late wife,
  • Foster Rinefort
    Foster: Penny, passed away in 1986, and I’ve remarried, and my second wife Jean and I share her two girls. Her oldest, a doctorate in physics and now a senior researcher and group manager with the West Virginia Consortium on Research and Science, in Morgantown, West Virginia. Youngest is teaching biologic sciences in Albuquerque. So we have wonderful places to visit. Our families, four children. . But the truth is that coming to Grinnell as a blank slate, semi-blank slate, my many influences, many experiences here have given me the positive feeling that there are
  • Foster Rinefort
    Foster: some things ,many things I can do, and I sure have tried to do as many as I could. So at age 78, I continue to be a cheerleader for the College to encourage people to come here, to fulfill and find their dreams, whatever they would happen to be, at this wonderful school, with wonderful traditions, that has happened to invest so carefully and wisely that there is a beautiful new campus laid on the old campus and that provides opportunities beyond expectations, reasonable expectations, for the 1,300 students that are here. So those students, I wish you well, and hope, and know, that at least one of you will find your way through life and fulfill your dreams, which you can’t even imagine at this point in time.
Alumni oral history interview with Foster Rinefort '54 and '56. Recorded June 4, 2010.
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