Reverend John W. Rieck

May 1, 1933 – Jan. 15, 2024


In 1933, with the passage of the 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition, the Reverend Norman W. Rieck and his wife Martha (Stenske) Rieck of Marble, Minnesota might have raised a glass to celebrate the arrival of their second born son John Wilbur Rieck. The middle of three boys, John would be faithfully raised in the Lutheran Church along with his brothers Norman (“Bucky”), 1931, and Jerome, 1936.

John attended high school at Michigan Lutheran Seminary in Saginaw, Michigan, continuing his education at Concordia College in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He received his seminary training at Concordia Theological Seminary of St. Louis, Missouri, graduating in June 1957. There he honed his theological insight and prepared for a life of spiritual leadership serving the Lord for 60 years through the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church.  

On June 8, 1957 in Rochester, Minnesota, John married his sweetheart Julia Ann Schwerman. A beautiful ceremony was officiated by the father of the bride, Reverend Earl Schwerman, and father of the groom, Reverend Norman Rieck. 

In 1958, John and Julia moved to Casey, Illinois serving two churches, one in Casey and one in Marshall. In 1959 they moved to Orange, California where John served as a vicar and was mentored by the Reverend Victor Behnken at Immanuel Lutheran Church. In 1966, John and Julia, along with their three young daughters, moved to La Cañada and then La Crescenta. There, with a heart full of compassion and a booming voice that resonated with wisdom, John provided guidance, comfort and inspiration to countless individuals both within his congregation, Gethsemane Lutheran Church, and beyond.

Along with his love of God and family, John was an avid enthusiast of the great outdoors. As a keen ornithologist, John especially loved the study of ducks. His friends and family were often impressed with his ability to identify every single duck species and were frequently gifted with his beautiful, hand-carved decoys.

Preceded in death by his parents, brothers and wife of 63 years, he is survived by his children: Ruth Martha of Spokane, Washington, Rebecca Ann Rieck (Robin) of Burbank and Elizabeth Mary Crawford (Larry) of Lakewood; grandchildren Jonathan Bot, Sarah Foster (Blake), Andrew Bot, Rachyl Spacca (Cris), Eliza Crawford, John Paul Crawford (Kathy) and Julia Ann Crawford; great-grandchildren Emma Foster, Harper Bot and Bennett Foster.

On Saturday, Jan. 27 at 10 a.m. a memorial service will be held at Gethsemane Lutheran Church, 2723 Orange Ave. in La Crescenta, Pastor James Edwards officiating. Friends are invited to arrive early, at or after 9 a.m., for a viewing. Following the service, the family will travel to Mountain View Cemetery, 2400 N. Fair Oaks in Altadena for his committal service.

Pastor Rieck’s life reminds us of the profound impact one person can have when they live by faith, love genuinely and serve selflessly. His legacy will continue to inspire all who were fortunate enough to know him. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be directed to Gethsemane Lutheran Church, The Sierra Club or Ducks Unlimited.