By Sally Voth
Strasburg may have lost a man who gave it his heart and soul, but surely his spirit will live on in his hometown. Longtime Councilman Carl Rinker died on Saturday. He was 70.
His spouse of 49 years, Joyce Rinker, said he'd spent more than 30 years on the town council, later serving on the planning commission until his health deteriorated to the point he had to step down several months ago.
Rinker had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer about 2 1/2 years ago, his wife said. That spread to his spine, and his condition went gravely downhill following an operation on his back.
"He said, 'I'm not going to take any more treatments, chemo, or radiation, or have any more operations,'" Mrs. Rinker said. "Probably from August to now, we battled it one way or another."
The Strasburg High School graduate had many interests, she said, including flying, model trains, antique tools, guns and working on cars.
"He had many hobbies and he was involved in just a lot of different things," Mrs. Rinker said. "Anybody broke anything -- one of the kids, or even the adults -- Poppy would be asked to fix it.
"He had it all or tried everything he was interested in."
But, it was Strasburg itself to which Rinker was especially dedicated.
"Oh my gosh, yes," Mrs. Rinker said when asked if her husband enjoyed his time in politics. "He always wanted to do what he thought was best for the town. Of course, he had controversies and people didn't always agree, but that's politics, you know."
Rinker had the gift of the gab.
"He definitely was a jokester and a talker," Mrs. Rinker said. "I mean he could just talk your head off."
A very smart man, Rinker, who was a surveyor, was very involved with his children and grandchildren, she said.
The Rev. David Howard, minister at Strasburg Presbyterian Church, had known Rinker for the better part of two decades, having come onto the planning commission when Rinker was a councilman.
"He was a man who sought to put the interests of Strasburg first, and Carl always wanted to do the best for the town as a whole," he said of his friend. "Carl's parents were good Strasburg folks, and Carl's heart and soul was here in Strasburg."
Being so involved in local town politics "might have cost dearly in some ways, but he loved his town of Strasburg."
"We will really miss him," said Howard, who will be assisting in Rinker's funeral on Sunday. "What a guy. While he certainly owned his politics, he was a guy who would work with anyone when he felt it served the town's interests, and I think that's what we will miss about him."
Strasburg Mayor Tim Taylor offered his condolences to the Rinker family, while also paying homage to Rinker's long service to the town.
"One thing for sure that was so impressive about Carl was his tenure," he said. "It seemed like he was always there. You just don't see that nowadays, people willing to put that much time into an elected office like that."
When Taylor first got elected to the town council, he asked Rinker why he'd stayed involved for so long.
"He was just honest," Taylor recalled. "He said, 'Hey, Tim, I grew up in this community and it just means the world to me, and I just felt I had to give back to it.' That's the purest form of service you want to hear about. That's the right reason for wanting to serve."
Rinker leaves behind three daughters, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, according to his obituary.
Rinker's memorial service is 2 p.m. Sunday at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Strasburg, according to his obituary. Donations can be made to the church, 191 W. Washington St., Strasburg, Va. 22657, or to Blue Ridge Hospice, 333 W. Cork St., Suite 405, Winchester, Va. 22601.
em>Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org