Inner Strength

Former Pewee Valley Mayor Reinhardt
known for her love of children

She will serve as grand marshal
at Oldham County Day

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(July 2010) – Ask anyone who knows her and they will say that family is the thing that matters most to Pewee Valley, Ky., resident Vivien Reinhardt. Raising 15 children while juggling household demands and volunteering on various boards and organizations within the county may not always have been easy. But it has been extremely rewarding for this woman known for her inner strength and grace.
Reinhardt served as mayor of Pewee Valley for 13 years. She didn’t run for the position but was a write-in on the 1986 ballot. “I didn’t know how to be mayor,” said Reinhardt, 84.
Residents of the town of Pewee Valley were convinced that she should be mayor. To bolster her confidence in herself, Reinhardt took municipal courses at the University of Louisville.
She said she was proud of the way “everyone jumped in to help. We had excellent councilmen” who got along well with each other to make her job easier. She’s also proud of the police department the town maintained during those years.
Her energy never seems to run out. Reinhardt served as City Clerk of Pewee Valley for three years, City Court Judge for 21/2 and mayor. She also served on the boards of various organizations, such as the Oldham County Cooperative Extension, Tri-County Community Action Agency Board, the Oldham County Planning and Zoning Commission and the Pewee Valley Board of Adjustments and Appeals. She has held the latter appointment since 2002. She has volunteered at the Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women and as a counselor at Charterton Alcohol and Drug Abuse Hospital in La Grange. For all of these positions, she was never paid a cent.
Throughout the years of holding these various positions, she has remained a “hero” to her children and a beacon in the community to those who know her. For these reasons and many others, Reinhardt was chosen to be this year’s Grand Marshal of the Oldham County Day Parade. It is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, July 17, in downtown La Grange.

Vivien Reinhardt

Photo by Helen McKinney

Vivien Reinhardt was Mayor of
Pewee Valley for 13 years and will
be honored at the Oldham County
Day Luncheon on Tuesday, July 13.

A Grand Marshal Luncheon will be held in her honor at noon Tuesday, July 13, at the John Black Community Center in Buckner. The $12 ticket price includes lunch catered by the Red Pepper Deli.
The Luncheon and Oldham County Day are sponsored by the 18-member Project Guild of La Grange. This year’s theme, Leading with Strength and Grace, made Reinhardt a “pretty appropriate choice for Grand Marshal,” said Project Guild member Teresa Kinney. “She’s so deserving of this honor.”
Guild member Bettie Miller said, “We thought it was time to recognize her. She’s a strong lady of the community and very well respected.”
Reinhardt is also well-known in the community for her extensive gardens. “She has one of everything in her garden,” said Kinney.
“I’ve always loved gardening,” said Reinhardt. “I can’t remember a time when I did not love flowers and growing things.”
Because of her passion for flowers, Reinhardt has been a member of the Louisville Cardinal Garden Club for 30 years. Bette Zimmerman met Reinhardt through the club, and the two are the longest surviving members of the club.
“You can learn a lot from her,” said Zimmerman. “One of her greatest loves is gardening. She is a gracious lady who passes on lots of knowledge to everyone around her.”
Zimmerman has been Reinhardt’s neighbor since 1985. “She doesn’t usually relish the limelight but attracts a lot of attention because of her calming demeanor,” said Zimmerman’s husband, Jim. “She’s always ready to offer an encouraging word.”
When Jim Zimmerman entered the political arena, he said, “Vivien was very supportive of me. She’s very businesslike and straightforward, and she stands up for what she believes is right.”
Reinhardt succeeded John Stewart as Pewee Valley mayor. He worked as the city attorney under her and the two worked on many community projects together. While mayor, Reinhardt used her large dining room table for her office.
“She spearheaded a campaign to place hanging flower baskets on major street corners in Pewee Valley,” said Stewart. She also planted trees along Hwy. 146 to beautify the community.
“There couldn’t be a more caring mother and guiding parent,” said Stewart. “She treats people in the community like family.”
During the time the Zimmermans and Stewart have known Reinhardt, she served on the Tree Board USA for seven years. She maintains a one-acre lot surrounding her home, in addition to devoting her time to family and church activities.
“She places flowers in our church every Sunday of the year,” said best friend Louis Marker. The two attend Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church, where Reinhardt has been an elder and faithfully served on most committees at the church.
“She’s a great friend,” said Marker, who has known her since Reinhardt’s family moved to Pewee Valley. “She’s a wonderful gardener and works so well with kids. She’s very unselfish and loves to share.”
Of the county she has built a life in, Reinhardt said, “Oldham County is a good county with the loveliest of people.” During her 23 years on the Planning and Zoning Commission, Reinhardt said the county changed tremendously. “There’s been so much development, with the influx of people into the county.” She said that while serving on the commission, “We worked very hard to do the right thing for the development of the county.”
Reinhardt has always been devoted to Pewee Valley, though she is not originally from Oldham County. She was named “Oldham Countian of the Year” in 1980. The former Vivien Hoskins was raised in a big family in Eastern Kentucky in Wooton, Leslie County, “a small community of about 300,” she said.
Reinhardt’s sister, Mona, moved to Jefferson County and during Reinhardt’s senior year of high school, Mona invited her sister to live with her. Reinhardt remained in Jefferson County from 1942 until 1964. Reinhardt and her husband, James Donald (Don), a chief charter pilot for Kentucky Flying Service and vice president of Cardinal Aluminum Co., raised their family of seven children and eight foster children in Pewee Valley.
“All my life I have seen my mother give,” said Reinhardt’s son, Adam. “She volunteered everywhere she could. I’m happy to see her appreciated for all she’s done.”
Adam said his parents took in foster children for more than 20 years. “I always took in two at a time – siblings who would not be separated,” said Reinhardt. “With seven children of my own, there was always something going on that the foster child could become involved in.”
Adam said his parents were “two of the most loving parents I’ve ever seen in my life – there was no end to it. They loved life and those around them. Mom is the closest thing to a saint on earth.”

• To purchase tickets for the Grand Marshal Luncheon, contact Teresa Kinney at (502) 222-2665 or (502) 744-7466.

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