Bill Rintelmann (1930-2016)

Wayne Staab
August 30, 2016
William F. Rintelmann, Ph.D. (1930-2016)

William F. Rintelmann, Ph.D. (1930-2016)

Those in the discipline of hearing, and many individuals, are saddened to hear that one of the pioneers in our field, William “Bill” Rintelmann, passed away on August 21, 2016 at his home in Carefree, AZ.

His exemplary academic career in audiology started with his graduation from Arizona State College, followed by M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Indiana University. Bill took time off from his academic career to serve as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Field Artillery for three years. He was the first post-doctoral student in audiology in the United States working with Raymond Carhart at Northwestern University in the early 1960s.  Bill chaired audiology departments at The University of Pennsylvania and Wayne State University. He also served on faculties at the University of North Dakota, Northwestern and Michigan State Universities. He retired from Wayne State University in 1995.

His many contributions to the field included key investigations on word recognition tests, various aspects of diagnostic audiology, and he was perhaps the first audiologist directly involved in functional imaging studies at Brookhaven labs in 1979. Bill is credited with over 80 articles in scientific and professional journals as well as 14 book chapters. He also edited or co-edited four popular textbooks in audiology which included first and second editions of “Hearing Assessment” in 1979 and 1991, “Principles of Speech Audiometry” in 1983, and “Contemporary Perspectives of Hearing Assessment” in 1999.

In 1997 he received the “Career Award in Hearing” from the American Academy of Audiology, a fitting tribute to his many contributions to audiology. Bill was also a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, a member of the American Academy of Audiology, the Academy of Rehabilitative Audiology, and served eight years on the Executive Committee of the American Auditory Society. Bill was a consummate teacher, providing vivid historical accounts of important aspects of audiology to his students, many of whom have become leaders in the field.  Moreover, he was a kind and dear friend to many students and professionals in speech and hearing generously sharing his time, expertise and guidance over many years. He will be dearly missed.


Editor’s Personal Note:  Bill was first my audiology/hearing science mentor, then colleague, and lastly a dear friend.  In some ways we followed each other around.  Bill taught at the University of North Dakota, a position that I followed a few years later.  I often mentioned to him that I was “fortunate” to inherit his extensive hearing facilities and equipment.  This consisted of a Bogan amplifier, an attenuator (0 being no reduction, or the loudest sound), a Western Electric 2A audiometer, a turntable with the loudness controlled by the attenuator and sound directed to either the audiometer earphones or to a speaker on the wall, and a very small “sound-treated” room put together, I assume, by University workers.  I believe there was also a Beltone 5A audiometer as well.  What more could one want?

When I enrolled at Michigan State University for my doctoral program, Bill was on the faculty and became my mentor: a task master, interesting, a font of knowledge, detailed, intensive, demanding, but always fair and easy to communicate with.  One definitely learned about audiology from Bill.  He was later my dissertation advisor.

A few years after leaving Michigan State University, I entered the “dark side” of the hearing aid industry.  Bill supported my decision and counseled me to ignore the admonitions from the “professional” community and encouraged me to show how I could help affect change in the hearing aid industry, and perhaps even in audiology in my new endeavor.  It was great advice, and he followed my career in industry very closely.

After Bill retired, he moved to Arizona where he and I were going to spend time fishing.  We did some, but not enough because I moved from Phoenix, something I had never thought I would do.  Over the years, we had many good times, professionally and personally – those that I will always cherish.

Thank you, Bill, for everything, and may you rest in peace.


 – Wayne Staab







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