BYRON – Michael Lee Reibel went home to his eternal rest after a brief illness on Feb. 5, 2020. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Lord.” Mike cherished his recent days visiting with family, friends, including those from All Saints Lutheran Church in Byron, his new congregation of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lanark, and his Wartburg Theological Seminary community.
Mike was born on Jan. 16, 1968 to Bill and Cheryl (Ferris) Reibel in Clinton, Iowa. Mike graduated from Byron High School in 1986. He continued his education at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geography and a minor in Biology. On Sept. 21, 1991, Mike married his love and best friend, Bridget Musso at St. Anthony of Padua Church, Rockford.
Mike was briefly employed by the United States Department of Agriculture as a conservation technician and then by the Winnebago County Soil and Water Conservation District as the Resource Conservationist. On Jan. 1, 1992 Michael began employment with the County of Ogle as the Assistant Zoning Administrator, and was appointed the Zoning Administrator (now Planning & Zoning Administrator) in 1994. Mike was sought as a consultant to help surrounding towns and counties create their own comprehensive plans. A frequent speaker throughout Illinois on planning, zoning and land use; Mike served as both President and Vice President of the IL Association of County Zoning Officials. His love of the outdoors aligned deeply with responsibilities as Planning and Zoning Administrator for many years in Ogle County. Mike saw his role as a true steward of the land.
In August 2019 he retired leaving the Ogle County Planning and Zoning Department. Mike had sensed a call to the ministry for many years and was extremely excited to be responding to God’s persistent call to serve the Church as a Minister of Word and Sacrament. He began his studies at Wartburg Theological Seminary in September 2019 as a first-year Master of Divinity student in the Collaborative Learning program. He was thankful that Trinity Lutheran Church had decided to become a Collaborative Learning site and that he had been assigned to serve Trinity. He was scheduled to spend 3 weeks of study in the Holy Land when his illness surfaced. Mike will be greatly missed by all who were touched by his quiet spirit. Mike was an experienced IHSA basketball official around Northern IL for nearly 30 years. Once again, he was responsible for interpreting and applying rules; this time in exciting basketball contests, with poise and knowledge. In this role he also mentored his son Ben, officiating many games together these past 6 years. They were a dedicated team creating their personal memories.
Mike considered himself a renaissance man, he was an expert in the kitchen making homemade bread, sausages, beer, and a schnitzel and spatzle dinner was his specialty. He tapped Maple trees to make his own syrup and was also a beekeeper who enjoyed the flavor of the honey his bees produced. Mike loved reading, gardening, yard work, hiking, hunting, fishing, exercising, bird watching, and riding his motorcycle. He and Bridget enjoyed day trips and have been known to drive out of their way for a good meal or for good cheese. Mike was a self-taught guitarist who loved to share his gift of singing and playing. For his first Christmas Eve sermon, he incorporated his interpretation of the song “What a Strange Way to Save the World” where he then used his gifts of music to share this song with his congregation.
Survived by his beloved wife Bridget, his son and best friend Ben, who walked the woods, fished, hunted and refereed alongside his Dad. His loyal canine friend Millie. Further survived by his mother and stepfather Cheryl (Keith) Padgett, father Bill Reibel, sisters DeAnne (Randy) Otto, Tonia Wright, Franny (Gunther) Huber and Renee (Klaus Fiedler) Spielberger, brothers Glenn (Holly) Padgett, BJ (Kim) Reibel, father-in-law Myron (Barb) Musso, sisters-in law Gina (Jason) Kultgen, Chelsea Musso Cole (Nate Hamilton). Many dearly loved nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, and cousins.
Predeceased by mother-in-law, Kathy Musso, grandparents Bernard and Bernadine Reibel, Ralph and Ruth Ferris, Emma Padgett, stepmother Francine Reibel, and brother-in-law Todd Wright.
Mike was an amazing man, our hero. A person who showed incredible faith and strength during a most difficult time. He eased our pain and sadness by letting us know he was not afraid and that he was surrounded by God’s love often saying, “God’s will be done.” Mike continued to be kind and gracious to everyone around him as he offered them a “God bless you” at the end of every visit. It was an honor to watch him preach and to see him begin to fulfill his lifelong dream. Mike shared with us, “I will be with you in every sunrise and every sunset and everywhere in between.”
A Celebration of Life for Mike was held at All Saints Lutheran Church, 624 Luther Dr, Byron, on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. with a visitation from 9:30 a.m. until time of service. Visitation was on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020 from 3-7 p.m. at Farrell Holland Gale Funeral Home, 506 W Merchant St, Byron. Memorials per Mike’s wishes may be directed to the family or to Carpenter’s Place Outreach Center, Trinity Lutheran Church, All Saints Church, or Serenity Hospice and Home.