Longtime trustee Jim Rindfuss dies; board members share memories

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District 9 trustee Jim Rindfuss discusses fiscal year 2017 and 2018 revenue and expenses at the Special Board Meeting and Budget Retreat on July 18, 2017 at Killen Center. Photos by Deandra Gonzalez

The board will appoint a temporary replacement trustee for District 9.

By Zachary-Taylor Wright

zwright9@student.alamo.edu

The board of trustees recalled memories of District 9 trustee Jim Rindfuss at the regularly monthly meeting Aug. 15. Trustees learned of his death while they were in executive session.

Rindfuss did not attend the meeting because of ill health, but Board Chair Yvonne Katz, District 7 trustee, said he was watching a live streaming of the event.

She said Rindfuss joined the board of trustees in May 1996, meaning he served Alamo Colleges for 21 years. Rindfuss’ six-year term was set to end in 2020.

In an interview with The Ranger after the board’s executive session Aug. 15, Chancellor Bruce Leslie said the board will send out requests for application to fill Rindfuss’ position until the next board election in May.

During the time allocated for memorials, Chancellor Bruce Leslie announced there were no memorials, but the board would probably not see Rindfuss at board meetings again.

Leslie said he spoke with Rindfuss Aug. 14 and he is in a “very dire stage in his disease.” Leslie did not identify the disease.

During the board meeting, Leslie said he met Rindfuss and District 2 trustee Denver McClendon and Rindfuss during his interview for the chancellor position, saying that Rindfuss, an attorney, took immediate control and asked a wide range of questions at a rapid pace.

Leslie said Rindfuss’ questions ranged from what the responsibility of a chancellor was to how Leslie was going to address the kindergarten issues in this city.

Leslie said McClendon allowed Rindfuss to go on and then subtly dismissed everything Rindfuss said.

Leslie said this insight into the friendship between two board members convinced Leslie that he wanted to accept the position when it was offered.

“I left that session so impressed with the relationship that these two men had,” Leslie said.

Katz said the Rindfuss family was streaming the board meeting that night and gave the board members an opportunity to share their stories.

 District 4 trustee Marcelo Casillas recalled Rindfuss’ mission to end the corruption in the district when he became a board member.

District 1 trustee Joe Alderete thanked Rindfuss for his time in 1996, saying people don’t understand how difficult it is to correct a faltering organizational system.

“All he wanted was justice and transparency,” Rindfuss said.

Casillas said Rindfuss was a champion of the district, the colleges and his constituents.

District 6 trustee Gene Sprague recalled public accusations that Rindfuss was racist but said he proved them wrong.

“Never did I have a doubt about where you stood on an issue,” Sprague said. “There’s a man where whatever he says is exactly where he is. I’ve never seen a fiercer warrior for the truth and for justice.”

Sprague said Rindfuss had a passion for increasing the literacy rate in the city.

He recalled Rindfuss’ efforts to get messages about children’s literature put on television and said Rindfuss’ goal was to get everyone in this city literate.

Alderete said Rindfuss was being sincere when he pushed for affordable books and joked that two agreed for the first time on purchasing electronic books.

Sprague thanked Rindfuss for helping out his son at a time of need, saying the “bill for that never arrived.”

“You’re a great friend,” Sprague said. “I’m not ready to say goodbye, but you’ll always have a very important part on this board. … Thank you for being a great friend.”

McClendon said he and Rindfuss were very good friends but often had to resolve political differences.

“Jim and I are very good friends,” McClendon said. “Jim and I disagree politically on everything.”

District 3 trustee Ana Bustamante said Rindfuss used to scare her when she first joined the board in 2008 because he was so passionate in his convictions.

Bustamante said she discovered that Rindfuss was extremely kind; she said she experienced a loss in 2010, and he helped her out legally.

Bustamante said, as she got more comfortable speaking up, Rindfuss would say, “You’re just a firecracker!”

District 5 trustee Roberto Zárate defined Rindfuss in one word.

“Devotion: That to me just describes Jim Rindfuss.”

Zárate said that the student success fund was mainly instigated by Rindfuss.

Kingsbery said Rindfuss was the first board member to speak to him and described Rindfuss as tall and intimidating.

Kingsbery said Rindfuss was the first person to call and congratulate him when he became a board member.

Kingsbery said every interaction he had with Rindfuss was a little scary because “he (Rindfuss) was not afraid to speak his mind as everyone on this board knows.”

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4 Comments

  1. Daniel Derrico on

    Jim Rindfuss was a man of great integrity who contributed so much to the Alamo Colleges and to this community. He always said what he meant, meant what he said, and did what he said he would do. He was a straight-shooter, with a deep sense of fairness and justice for all.

    -Dan Derrico, former Interim Chancellor of Alamo Colleges

  2. Rindfuss was one of the greatest antagonists towards Faculty and staff that the Alamo Colleges ever had. He particularly despised the faculty at San Antonio College. Rindfuss overstayed his time on the board by too many years, hopefully his replacement will deal equitably with the Faculty and staff at all the Colleges.

  3. Roland C. DuBay on

    21 Years in a position that is often much under-appreciated is a testament to Jim Rindfuss’ devotion and love for the Alamo Community College District. He may have had strong beliefs that sometimes clashed with the beliefs of others, but as Daniel Derrico stated, this only proved Jim was a man of integrity who held firm. My prayers are with his family and friends and many others at this time.
    Roland C. DuBay, former Executive Director, Institutional Advancement for the ACCD.

  4. J.Terence Kelly,Chancellor Emeritus on

    Jim Rindfuss was a true loyalist for Alamo Community Colleges. He served for many years on the Board of Trustees and he always had the best interest of the colleges at heart. He had admiration for all of the colleges and he was a in every sense of friend.

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