Conard B. Rheiner (1902-1987)

Conard Rheiner


"Take a stand for something worthwhile, raise a banner in behalf of truth, health, justice, beauty, or morality. Each will inevitably be joined by others, so that truth shall prevail, so that health shall be abundant, so that justice shall be established, so that beauty shall dominate over ugliness, so that morality shall thrive among our people."

~ Conard B. Rheiner, October 1, 1967

His life was deeply concerned with the never-ending struggle for justice and peace. He was outspoken, sensitive and compassionate. His sense of values and integrity were a model for, among others, Elaine Mikels. "I couldn't have found a better person to work for than Conard Rheiner, a kind and gentle man who had been the minister of several Unitarian churches … and director of the Center for the Blind in Seattle, Washington."

Conard and Elaine met during their association with Mission Neighborhood Centers. During his lifetime, Conard received considerable recognition for his contribution to the field of social work. When Elaine Mikels created the first "halfway" house in San Francisco, she named it Conard House, in honor of his accomplishments, leadership and most especially his influence on the fearless, politically radical activist she was becoming.

Born in Philadelphia, Conard was ordained into the Universalist ministry following his graduation from Tufts University in 1928. Conard continued to lead and further the Unitarian Universalist cause until his death in 1987. He served churches in Massachusetts, Iowa, Maine and Denver, Colorado. It was in Chicago in the 1940s and early 1950s that Conard decided to make social work his life career, social work as embodied in settlement houses and neighborhood centers. He and Anne, his wife of nearly sixty years, eventually settled in the Bay Area. They were founding members of the Unitarian Universalist Church in San Mateo.

In 1987, the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco established the Rheiner Award, which recognizes "those unsung advocates among us who practice humanitarian principles in all their affairs…" According to the Award Committee, the ministry of the Reverend Conard Rheiner (1961-1987) was "exceptional for its activism and community service." His life, along with those of recipients of the Award, has shown "commitment, leadership, significant accomplishments, and meaningful involvement with our Unitarian Universalist principles."