Donald Hinkle, formerly of Shillington, PA, passed away peacefully on the evening of April 3, 2020 in Reading Hospital after suffering from a fall. He was the husband of Dorothy Joan (Kirk) Hinkle whom he married on July 16, 1955. The son of the late William E. and Alice (Adams) Hinkle, he was born July 31, 1933 in Trenton, NJ.
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In addition to his wife, Donald is survived by his daughter Donna, Shillington, PA, many nieces and nephews, and along with his parents, predeceased by his sisters Alice and Dorothy, and his brothers, Bud and Bill.
Donald graduated from William MacFarland High School in Bordentown, NJ in 1951. He then went on to graduate, with his Bachelor’s Degree in music from Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1956 and his Master’s Degree in Sacred Music from Wittenberg University in Springfield, OH in 1969. He also attended Union Theological Seminary In New York, NY and Westminster Choir College in Princeton NJ. He served in the United States Air Force in Washington DC as a Chaplain’s Assistant.
Donald’s deep dedication to his faith led him to positions as Director of Music in many churches throughout the Midwest and Northeast. In 1969, he became the Director of Music and Christian Education at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Reading, PA, and knew he had found his home. Donald, along with his wife and daughter, have remained members of Trinity since 1969.
His position at Trinity afforded him the opportunity to build upon its already existing excellent music and christian education programs, and in his years there, the programs grew and flourished. After some time, he stepped down as Christian Education Director and focused solely on the music and worship programs. He was instrumental in establishing a Noonday Recital Series, Fall Festival of the Arts, mid-week worship services, Morning Prayer and Lenten Evening Prayer services, church music composer weekends, a vocal study program, worship leaders and worship planners, various choirs, from the Adult Choir, Treble Choir, Youth Ensemble, Boy Choir, Chamber Choir, a Kindermusik program, and a handbell ensemble was formed during his time at Trinity. He also instituted a program utilizing the Royal School of Church Music, a program based in England, for young people, not only teaching music techniques, but incorporating worship into their music education. The program is still used at Trinity today. During his time there, there were approximately 120 people involved in the music programs over the years. He introduced the congregation to new and various anthems and liturgy, always with the goal of enhancing their lives and their faith. Some came to be an annual tradition, such as Morning Softly Awakens, sung every Christmas Eve, and Turkey On the Table, sung by the children at the annual Thanksgiving morning worship. He had a marvelous gift for creating hymn and choral arrangements and hymn introductions. In 1983 he was asked to be the organist and choir director for the installation service of Harold Weiss, Bishop of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod. He also formed West Berks Lutheran Singers in 1970, a Christian musical singing group comprised of young people from various churches in the area. The group performed for the National Lutheran Church in America’s Synod Convention in Dallas TX in 1972. His love of this congregation, the pastors, the many adults and young people, and all those from the surrounding communities he worked with over the years, continued to sustain, strengthen and renew his work and faith. For him, to know and work with these individuals was a great privilege and honor. Donald retired from Trinity in 1996.
Before he retired, he began to think of ways to stay involved and formed Berks Classical Children’s Chorus, now known as Berks Youth Chorus in 1992, a dedicated music program for young people who perform everything from sacred to secular music. The chorus remains active still today. During his time there, the chorus performed in Washington, DC., Rhode Island, and with The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, the Reading Symphony Orchestra, and many outstanding choral groups. He was always indebted to the tremendous musicians, parents, co-workers, and volunteers he worked with during his time with this organization. Many of the young people involved in the organization continued to stay in contact with him over the years, which brough him great joy. He stepped down in 2005.
Still not ready to fully retire, he accepted the position as part-time Organist at Reformation Lutheran Church in Reiffton, PA, in 2003. This congregation embraced and welcomed him and his time there and friendships formed was such a tremendous gift to him. He fully retired in 2013.
He was involved in the Spring Swing Productions at Governor Mifflin High School, in Berks County, PA, as chorus director, taught private voice, piano, and organ lessons, published numerous church anthems and arrangements through Augsburg Press and Concordia, served on the hymn selection committee of the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship for the publication of the Lutheran Book of Worship, and in 1969, published a book entitled Music in Christian Education through Lutheran Church Press.
Dignity and class were at the forefront of Donald’s life and work. His goal was to enhance the lives of those whom he worked with through music and worship. His faith was ever present in all that he did and he loved the people he worked with over the years, and especially cherished his friends and family here, and those across the country. He was a loving caregiver to his wife, Joan, who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease. He loved his yard of flowers, sitting in his recliner with his dog, Bailey, by his side, listening to his favorite classical radio station, sitting on the front porch during a rainstorm, and the quietness of the morning, during his daily devotions. The beauty of Maine and Vermont, especially his trips to the Weston Priory, in Vermont, brought him great joy. His wisdom, good humor, and caring spirit, will be truly missed.
Donations may be made, in his name, to Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 527 Washington Street, Reading, PA,19601 (please note on your donation ‘Music Program’) or donations can be made in his name to Berks Youth Chorus, 201 Washington Street, #506b, Reading, PA 19601.
A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.
Henninger Funeral Home, Inc. Reading, PA is assisting the family.
“Soli Deo Gloria”