Reinhild Meissler obituary

Below is an obituary for Reinhild Meissler, a founding member and great friend of the Norman Sustainability Network.  We benefited greatly from her dedication to sustainability, and she will be dearly missed.

Reinhild (middle) at NSN's winter local foods feast in 2006
Reinhild (middle) at NSN’s winter local foods feast in 2006.

Reinhild Emilie Meissler, Dipl. Rel.; Ph.D. passed away Thursday October 2nd after a short battle with cancer. Reinhild was born November 4, 1957 in Ganderkesee, Germany. She received a Diploma in Religious Studies from the University of Bremen, Germany in 1990, focusing on indigenous religions, the human-environment relationship and Native American cultures and philosophies. She came to the U.S. in 1990 to continue her studies, receiving a B.A. and M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Montana. In 1999, she received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Oklahoma.

Reinhild was a passionate and dedicated teacher for the Department of Anthropology, the College of Education, the College of Continuing Education, the College of Liberal Studies and the Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Environment program at the University of Oklahoma. One of her students wrote “her ideas and teaching style were a huge influence on me, and I’m aware on a daily basis of how formative my interactions with her were.”

In addition to her teaching, Reinhild gave back to her “home” state of Oklahoma through volunteer work. She described herself as a “work in progress” and to that end worked very hard for the principles she believed in. She volunteered every month to distribute the Oklahoma Food Coop orders. She was a founding member, former treasurer, and guiding voice for the Norman Sustainability Network. She also supported and participated in the Oklahoma Sustainability Network.

She was also passionate about the American plains, Native American and bison culture, and furthering a more sustainable way of living on and with the earth. Ultimately, Oklahoma was her true home, the place to which she felt most spiritually connected and nourished. Reinhild was a fine friend to Annie and Ed Hart of Cole, OK and championed their efforts to conserve Monarch Butterfly habitat in Oklahoma. Annie chose a Chickasaw name for Reinhild “Yunush iskunois ut mali ah chah pah” meaning “Little Buffalo against the wind” for her strength, perseverance, and grace in everything she did. Reinhild was a great cook, and was quick to laugh at the foibles of our existence. She worked tirelessly to make things better for our earth.

Whenever possible, Reinhild could be found on a weekend helping a friend by slapping mud on a straw bale house under construction. Time for increasing her knowledge of guitar playing often eluded her, but did not diminish her desire to become a better guitar player. We will miss a beautiful person.

The Reinhild E. Meissler Student Enrichment Fund has been established in her name through the Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Environment program in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma. For more information on making a contribution to this fund, contact David Quirk, Director of Development for the College of Arts and Sciences, (405) 325-3724 or by email at

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