Palm Beach Atlantic University Honors the Legacy of its Visionary Donor John Rinker

It is with great sadness that Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) announces the passing of John J. Rinker, the benefactor of our most significant singular gift in the history of the God-Sized Dreams campaign and the institution.

John’s philanthropic contributions to PBA and the Palm Beaches, alongside Sheila, his wife of 43 years, have made a lasting impact.

John was born in 1944 to Vera Lea and Marshall E. “Doc” Rinker, Sr.—a founding member of PBA. After attending Stetson University, John worked for Rinker Materials Corporation and eventually became president of quarry operations.

He was president of the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Foundation and became involved with PBA—following in his father’s footsteps, who helped start the University. He orchestrated the lead gift to build the Vera Lea Rinker Music Hall, named in honor of his mother. He also led the development of the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Athletic Campus and the John and Sheila Rinker Sports Center, completed in 2014 and 2017, respectively.

John is also remembered for his beautiful photos. He bought his first camera when he was 18 during a family vacation. His love of photography took him around the world, giving him unique opportunities to capture spectacular images of the natural world.

In 2016, John and Sheila received PBA’s highest honor, the degree Honoris causa, or Honorary Doctorate. In Sheila’s acceptance speech, she spoke of the Rinker family legacy and the generosity the family has shown to PBA since its inception.

John Rinker’s commitment to PBA has been both deep and enduring. The January 2024 groundbreaking of the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Business Hall—a state-of-the-art facility poised to transform business education— stands as a testament to his vision and dedication. At the forefront of these expansion efforts was John Rinker, who, with the support of his wife Sheila, contributed $20 million along with a $6 million gift he championed from the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Foundation, Inc., of which he was the president. This facility is not just a building; it is a promise to future generations of students who will walk through its doors to learn, grow, and lead with integrity.

“John Rinker’s extraordinary legacy at PBA cannot be overstated. His visionary philanthropy, particularly visible in his monumental contributions to our God-Sized Dreams campaign, has propelled the university into a new era of educational excellence and community service,” said PBA President Dr. Debra A. Schwinn. “The Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Business Hall, soon to rise at the heart of our campus, stands as a lasting tribute to John’s commitment to preparing future leaders through values-based education.”

John’s contributions extended far beyond financial support. His involvement in various capacities, including his tenure as a trustee from 1999 to 2007, have been pivotal in advancing PBA’s mission. His belief in the transformative power of education was evident in his unwavering support for our students, whom he often said were the true reason for his involvement. John cared deeply for the students’ development in integrity, moral strength, and community engagement.

As we reflect on John’s remarkable life and legacy, we extend our heartfelt condolences and prayers to Sheila and the entire Rinker family. We are grateful beyond words for his contributions, his leadership, and his impact on our community. John’s legacy will continue to inspire and influence PBA for generations to come.

“John was much more than a benefactor; he was a part of the PBA family. His passion for fostering integrity and moral strength in our students has impacted countless lives, inspiring them to invest themselves in their communities just as he did.” reflected PBA Board Chair Tom McCaffrey. “As we move forward, we do so with a profound sense of gratitude for John’s life and everything he has given us. The impact of his generosity will resonate for generations, in every corner of our campus and in the hearts of our students.”

Gifts made in memory of John Rinker will go toward PBA’s Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Business Hall. To learn more about PBA’s God-Sized Dreams, click here.