Reinfelds family plays an important role in the Society’s history

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Uldis and Claudia with two of their grandchildren

It was 1949 when Uldis Reinfelds, then only 5 years old, and his parents, Nikolais and Rita Reinfelds, traveled by boat from Germany to the U.S.

The family was part of a group of more than 50 people who the Good Samaritan Society sponsored for work.

But the sponsorship may not have happened if not for a chance conversation between Uldis’s uncle Paul and the Rev. August “Dad” Hoeger.

Uldis and his mother on a boat to the U.S.

Paul had also been sponsored. He traveled from Germany to North Dakota, where he worked on a farm. One evening, he was invited to church to hear a guest who spoke German. The guest was the Rev. Hoeger.

After the service, Paul told the Rev. Hoeger how his family lived in a displaced person’s camp in Germany because they had fled from Latvia when unrest broke out. His relatives, Nikolais and Rita, were looking to make a fresh start.

Dad Hoeger made arrangements for them to live and work at the Society.

A warm welcome

Uldis remembers traveling by train from New York to South Dakota. When his family arrived in Sioux Falls, the Rev. Hoeger’s son, John Hoeger, greeted them and took them to a small, country nursing home near Parkston called the Colony of Mercy.

Uldis and his parents at Colony of Mercy

The Reinfelds were always in touch with the Hoegers, who treated them like family.

“Dad Hoeger used to visit us quite a few times. He was always trying to make things a little bit better for everybody,” says Uldis. “I thought of Dad Hoeger like a grandfather and the other Hoegers like aunts and uncles.”

After being in Parkston for two years, the Reinfelds were asked to transfer to Olathe, Kansas, where the Society had just purchased a nursing home.