Lee Rinderer has come a long way in the world of retail since he first broke into business in 1972 sweeping the floor in his parents’ store.
This year’s Highland Chamber of Commerce Bob Hardy Citizen of the Year, Rinderer now owns his own store, Lee’s Fine Jewelry, Loans and More, on the Highland Square.
And, while he has moved up the ladder, he has preferred to keep the view with which he started. His parents’ store operated in the same building on Main Street where Rinderer has his shop today.
“Lee’s is truly a family business with wife, Angie, and mom, Norma, working in the store during the busy seasons,” said incoming chamber president Rob Bowman, who presented Rinderer with his award on June 23 at the chamber’s annual meeting. “The family business would not be complete without the next generation of jewelers, son Adam and daughter Lexi, also help in the store and no doubt are learning all the tricks of the trade from their dad.
“Does that include sweeping the floors?” Bowman joked.
Rinderer wasn’t a broom jockey for long. By 1979, he was running his family’s Breese store.
He later stepped away from the family business to begin his own his delivery business, LMR Deliveries, which he rain from 1989 to 2002.
In 2002, he and his wife started their current business.
“Starting out as primarily a pawnshop, Lee’s is now recognized throughout the area as a fine jewelry store,” Bowman said. “While Lee’s continues to offer pawn services, 75 percent of the current inventory is primarily new diamond and gemstone jewelry.”
While juggling career and family, Rinderer has always also found the time to support the community in which he was born and raised.
Besides being a member of the Highland Chamber of Commerce, he is also a member of the Helvetia Sharpshooters, the Highland Sportsmen’s Club and was a former Highland volunteer firefirefighter and EMT.
“(He) is not just a member of these organizations, but has been an active member, which is unusual in today’s world where everyone seems to be busy with their own lives,” said Bowman.
Rinderer is also 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus and a member of St. Paul Catholic Church, whee he regularly serves as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, as well as a hospitality minister.
“(He) has been such a good steward at St. Paul that (he) received a Pauline Award for (his) contributions,” Bowman said.
He was a charter member of the Highland Moose Lodge in 1997.
“In the past 18 years, (he has) worked on almost every project and held every office in the organization, including serving as the governor (president) for two terms from 2003 to 2005,” Bowman said.
Rinderer said he was very surprised he was chosen to receive the award. But he is very grateful.
“I just to follow my mother and father’s footsteps,” he said.
Rinderer said his parents always believed in “treating people right.”
“They always would always give the shirt off their back,” he said.
The same can be said about Rinderer, who follows “The Golden Rule.”
“I try to treat others as you would want them to treat you,” he said.
About the Award
Bob Hardy Citizen of the Year Award is presented to someone who has supported and enhanced the image and civic progress of Highland. This person has contributed substantial personal time, financial support and/or effort to the community and civic events, thereby leading to a higher standard of living in the Highland Area.
In 1994, the award as a memorial to Hardy, a newsman and program host at KMOX radio in St. Louis. Though Hardy’s voice could be heard across many states, he always made sure that his listeners were well aware of the metro-east, especially Highland.