Chronology

1929: Born November 7th, in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, the second child of John Reitz and Sara Reitz. The other Reitz children are Nancy, Francis, and Allen.

1931: The family moves to Belvidere, New Jersey, a rural town near the Pequest and Delaware rivers.

1948: Graduates from Belvidere High School then enlists in the Navy and becomes a diver.

1952: After his discharge works a series of odd jobs before he moves to a remote lake near Montreal, Canada and living with Charlie, an Algonquin elder.

1953: Returns to Belvidere, New Jersey, marries his high school girlfriend Johanna Denker, and finds work as a meat cutter. In the fall, enrolls at Kutztown State Teachers’ College (now Kutztown University) in Pennsylvania, with the help of the G.I. Bill.

1957: Brent Reitz is born.

1957: During his last semester at Kutztown, first introduced to ceramics. He receives his B.S. in art education.

1957-60: Teaches art to kindergarten through junior high students at the Dover (New Jersey) Public Schools.

1958: Donna, Don and Johanna’s second child, is born.

1960: Enrolls in a summer course at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in Alfred, New York. Begins graduate work during the fall semester and serves as an undergraduate instructor.

1961: Travels to Flagstaff, Arizona to visit Don Bendel. The pair collaborates on building kilns and conducting workshops.

1962: Receives his M.F.A. from Alfred and accepts a job at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His family moves to Verona, a small town outside of Madison.

1963: Family moves to a farm in Dodgeville, Wisconsin where he builds his own kilns and keeps horses on the farm. Holds his first summer session as an instructor at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, where he returns every summer until 1982.

1966: Meets Rudy Autio and Peter Voulkos at Pennsylvania State University’s first Supermud conference. They become lifelong friends.

1969: Bruce Breckenridge joins the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s ceramic department. Breckinridge and Reitz become lifelong friends.

1973: At the height of his professional involvement, Reitz is a trustee for the North Central Region of the American Craft Council, becomes president of the National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts (NCECA), and a board member of the World Craft Council.

1975: Don and Johanna divorce. Reitz relocates to Madison. Fires work at the university for several years.

1980: Marries ceramist Paula Rice, couple moves to Deansville, Wisconsin, where Reitz begins to build kilns once again.

1982: Driving back from Penland, North Carolina, is in a near-fatal automobile accident. His father, John Reitz, dies a few days later. Shortly afterwards, Reitz learns his five-year-old niece, Sara Gula, has a Wilms tumor. Unable to throw on the wheel, Reitz draws and paints on earthenware forms instead.

1983: The Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan commission’s him to do a wall sculpture.

1986: Yukio Yamamoto completes his wood-fired Tozan kiln at Northern Arizona University, where Reitz does noborigama firing for the first time. Reitz’s interest in wood-firing grows.

1987: Paula Rice accepts a teaching position at Northern Arizona University. Reitz stays in Madison for a year.

1988: Resigns his position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is named professor emeritus. Purchases and relocates to a ranch along the Verde River outside of Clarkdale, Arizona. Reitz travels to Himeji City, Japan to work with Yamamoto.

1989: Builds his first wood-fire kiln on his Clarkdale ranch.

1994: Leads a workshop at the Train Station Center for Clay in St. Petersburg, Florida.

1998: The Reitz’s divorce.

2000: The Train Station Center for Clay asks Reitz to design and build wood kilns.

2001: The first wood kiln at Train Station Center for Clay is completed.

2002: Builds his own wood-fired anagama kiln, which he names “Reitzagama.”

2004: Retrospective Exhibition, Don Reitz: Clay, Fire, Salt, and Wood, Elvehjem Museum of Art (now Chazen Museum of Art), Madison, Wisconsin

2005: Has first open heart surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, has pacemaker installed.

2006: Has second open heart surgery.

2007: Begins his collaboration with Mission Clay Products, Phoenix, with support from owner Bryan Vansell.

2011: Retrospective Exhibition, Don Reitz, Belger Arts Center, Kansas City, Missouri

2014: Passes away at home on March 19th.