Richard J. Middendorf was a former priest, a teacher, principal, scholar and activist. He had a passion for life that included a fervor to care for the poor and people less fortunate.
""He was very involved in the community and had a busy, busy schedule,"" said his daughter, Tammy Koehne of Montfort Heights. ""If he wasn't teaching, he was going to his Peace and Justice meetings or Call to Action for the Diocese.""
He was eager to lend a hand to anyone in need, family, friend or stranger. One didn't last too long as a stranger; when one became his friend, you were a friend for life, she said.
""He was the kind of man who showed up for every event with a smile,"" his cousin David Middendorf of Covington said.
Mr. Middendorf, formerly of Monfort Heights, died Sept. 22 at Madonna Manor, in Villa Hills, from complications of cancer. He was 85.
He was the youngest of five children born to William A. and Mary E. Brueggen Middendorf of Park Hills.
He graduated from St. Xavier High School in 1946 and Xavier University in 1950.
He was a member of the Social Jokers, a group of friends who met in high school.
Holding a devout Catholic faith, Mr. Middendorf went to seminary, theology and novitiate. He attended Milford Seminary in Milford, Ohio and earned a masters degree in chemistry from Catholic University in Washington D.C.
He became an ordained Jesuit priest in 1960. During these years, Mr. Middendorf taught chemistry at both the high school and college levels.
After he left the priesthood, he met Rita A. Maloney, a former Benedictine nun and also a teacher. They met at a Catholic singles group. The couple married and later adopted their two children, Tammy and Rick.
His daughter said he instilled the same love for learning, desire to serve others, a reverence for God in both her brother and her.
She told the story about a time her father asked her to attend an inner city retreat with him. She was certain the retreat would be boring and thought it would be something only her father would like. She reluctantly agreed to attend.
Young people from across the Cincinnati diocese came to the retreat. They spent the week living life as the poor might live. She said they ate in soup kitchens, slept in rooms with no air-conditioning and were able to take only one shower that week.
""After I went through that, the experience opened my eyes to what my father's passion was. The needs of others were always met before his own. If he believed in something, he did not step down from it.""
Mr. Middendorf was principal at Brebeuf High School in Indianapolis and then taught chemistry at LaSalle High School in Montfort Heights for seventeen years. He was a Benedictine Oblate at St. Walburg Monastery, Villa Hills.
Following his retirement, he taught computer skills and life skills at the Lower Price Hill Community Center.
He also enjoyed playing golf, bowling and taking pictures of everything and everyone. He was never without his camera, his daughter said.
His wife, Rita A. Maloney Middendorf, brother, William B. Middendorf and sisters, Dorothy T. Miller and Sister Mary Middendorf, OLVM, died previously.
Along with his daughter, other survivors include his son, Rick Middendorf of Montfort Heights; sister, Sister Ann Middendorf, OSB of Villa Hills and eight grandchildren.
Services have taken place. Burial is in St. Mary Cemetery in Fort Mitchell. Middendorf Funeral Home, Fort Wright handled arrangements.
Memorials: The Richard J. Middendorf Memorial Scholarship Fund c/o La Salle High School, 3091 North Bend Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45247.
Online condolences www.middendorf-funeralhome.com.
Published in the Kentucky Enquirer from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, 2013