Temple remembers Glenn Reitz

African drums echoed throughout the halls of Anderson’s eighth floor as the spasmodic cadences neared the packed study hall. Draped in colorful dashikis, the two-man drum procession opened the Glenn “Omodiende” Reitz memorial and celebration

African drums echoed throughout the halls of Anderson’s eighth floor as the spasmodic cadences neared the packed study hall. Draped in colorful dashikis, the two-man drum procession opened the Glenn “Omodiende” Reitz memorial and celebration Sunday in honor of the Temple student and educator.

About 50 friends, neighbors, family members, and colleagues gathered to remember Reitz, 43, who passed away Dec.14 of AIDS related causes after an 18 year bout with HIV.

The Wisconsin native received undergraduate and masters degrees in African-American studies from Temple after medically retiring from the Navy following a 12 year stint. He guess lectured at Chestnut Hill College and was a Ph.D candidate in African-American Studies. He also participated in Temple’s Inside Out program, which consisted of going to local prisons and talking to inmates.

“Whatever I thought I knew about him has been enhanced from meeting his friends and going through his things,” said his mother, Arlene Reitz, prior to the ceremony, while sifting through his belongings at his home.

She was one of several people who shared poems written by or for Reitz. She took joy in exchanging poems with her son via email.

Sitting next to a box of clothes he had ordered on Craigslist to give to the needy, she combed through a box a letters from students that had taken his “Death and Dying” class.

But it was not the typical well-wishing remembrance ceremony. Those that told stories about Reitz recounted his rebellious spirit, intellectual jousting matches and constant defiance.

“When I first saw Glenn in the basement of Speakman [Hall], he had on army fatigues, dog-tags, a shaved head and a brown ponytail and my first thought was ‘neo-nazi,'” said African-American studies professor Sonja Peterson-Lewis.

Days later, Reitz was standing in front of her office trying to decide which black studies course to take to fulfill the core requirements of his dual major; African-American Studies and Womens Studies.

His neighbors and Strawberry Mansion Block Captains also briefly spoke of his persistence and dedication to his Ridge Avenue community. He was instrumental in getting the city to build a playground on the 33rd block of Ridge Avenue.

“He stood out there with the blue prints while they were building the playground,” said one block captain. “If something didn’t belong, he would point to the blue print and call the architect.” he added that Reitz drafted the letter to the city to get the playground built.

His youngest sister and closet sibling, Paige Politte, recited her favorite poem written by Reitz. “I am not my body,” she quivered, “I am not weak, weak with fatigue, weak with atrophy, weak with limbs that give out well before the job is done.”

Throughout the recollections of personal experiences with Reitz, one sentiment was resounding; he challenged the thoughts and convictions of the people he met. “He invested in people,” said Urban Education and American Studies professor Marc Lamont Hill. His first encounter with Reitz was through email where Reitz wrote a three page email critiquing his ideas on hip-hop and his study of the topic.

“Glenn, more than anyone I ever met, looked death right in the face and kept on moving,” Hill said who led the ceremony. “He found out he had HIV/AIDS decades ago and continued because of his illness.”

Renita Burns can be reached at renita.burns@temple.edu


  1. As a personal friend of Glenn’s since shortly after his diagnosis with HIV (we met in 1991), I must say that the world is a much sadder place without him.

    Glenn accomplished more in the face of death than most of us will accomplish facing long, long lives. He challenged himself daily, and refused to adhere to convention.

    The lessons of Glenn’s life will have a life-long affect on me, and I will sorely miss him.

  2. Glenn, I truely miss you and Know that you are looking down on us all here! Glenn was a big inspiration to me and everyone who he came around! I have a website called simplyrg.com – Glenn gave me that title! He was GR, and I am RG. I will carry on for him and let everyone know what he stood for and what kind of person he was to me and alot others! He not only showed me things, but he also took the time to teach me.

    LOVe you my Brother Glenn!
    Ricky Gray
    Simplyrg Productions

  3. I went to school with Glenn from 7th to 12th grade and spent a lot of time with him in school. He was always involved in so much socially and in the arts. He was so great to talk to and had a wonderful and intellectual sense of humor that I loved. Everything I have read here sounds just like him. It warms my heart that he devoted his life and his studies to those who are discriminated against and whose contributions in life are undervalued. I did have brief contact with him through email during his time at Temple. In his poetic way he let me know about his condition and that he really didn’t have the time or energy to devote to anyone other than those in his life at tht time. The brilliance of his words left me filled with understanding and compassion for him and for those who were destined to say goodbye to a great friend, brother and son.

  4. Glenn was an amazing person, in the real sense of the word! He definitely challenged my outlook on life and I have to say – made me a better person, THANK YOU Glenn! I miss you


  5. I was a friend of Glenn while we were in the Navy. He worked for me at NAS Atlanta and again at NAS South Weymouth. He always challenged me to keep ahead of him. We liked alot of the same movies. He would come to my house for dinner and play with my kids. Sometimes he would baby sit so my wife and I could go out for the evening. He was a good friend and I am sorry I lost track of him after he left South Weymouth. I never thought to look at home. I grew up in Warminster. The world is deminished with his passing.

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