Joe Riegsecker is a modest man with a sly sense of humor. “I’m just a guy who enjoys a broad but shallow range of interests, who has been fortunate enough to pursue them,” he tells us. “I have a face made for radio,” he replies when we ask for a picture.
We heard about Joe because of his willingness to help young people learn chess. “Don’t make it appear that I am a chess expert,” he says. We won’t. We will say, Joe learned to play as a youngster from his older brother who had taught himself by studying an encyclopedia. Joe started playing in tournaments when he went to school in Bloomington. When he got back to Elkhart County, he organized a few competitions.
Joe was also working as a part-time dairy farmer and, as he says, “chess tournaments and milking cows twice a day don’t really go together that well. When he stepped away from the dairy farm, he got more involved both playing in and organizing tournaments.
This year, Joe has helped with clubs and classes four days a week. He likes it best “when a kid has an ‘ah-ha’ moment, when something clicks and they understand a point I am trying to make.”
Joe makes sure to mention that his wife of 39 years, Debi, has been behind him most of the way. He tells us that Debi “has been tolerant and mostly supportive as I pursued my silly little projects over the years rather than concentrating on a real career.” Besides chess, what are some of those interests? Learning Latin and having a flock of sheep are a couple.
Joe once put up a website about the “Aenid”, an epic poem. It’s “something about which I know almost nothing!” Joe admits. “The internet,” he adds. “You gotta love it.”
And so, today, we recognize Joe Riegsecker as on of Elkhart County’s Vibrant People. His diverse interests and pursuits and how he talks about them surely makes Joe someone all of us would like get to know.