By Shoshanna McCollum ~ Ocean Beach has lost one of its community pillars over the first weekend of April 2020, in the passing of friend and neighbor George Rehn at the age of 71-years old.
For over 20 years George was active in many facets of Fire Island life. As longtime treasurer of the Ocean Beach Association, he regularly supervised the annual used clothing drive. He was a devoted parishioner of Our Lady of the Magnificat Roman Catholic Church; and was a common sight selling fundraising raffle tickets downtown on even the hottest of August weekends.
In 2000 George was the driving force behind organizing a Fire Island chapter of the Rotary Club, and while that chapter only lasted a few years, the cross-island community connections he forged endured.
On the mainland he operated a successful Certified Public Accounting firm in East Setauket, and served on the Board of Directors of Gold Coast Bank. George volunteered his skill and professional expertise in the field to a number of causes on Fire Island as well as greater Long Island generously. He also never hesitated to open his checkbook to the broad range of local charities that he supported. As civic minded as he was, George remained a humble and private man, who always made time for family and all that Fire Island had to offer. For years George kept a jet ski slip in the Ocean Beach marina so he could explore the Great South Bay, and with his wife Liz would often hop a water taxi over to Fire Island Pines, where they enjoyed going to tea dances.
A longtime bachelor, George and Lizbeth married in 2007. They met through online dating when it was still a rather new concept. As newlyweds, they briefly bylined the Ocean Beach column together for the Fire Island Tide, and to this day it still remains one of the more successful husband/wife newspaper columns among local Fire Island news publications. In addition to Liz, his daughter Jen and her husband John, his son Scott and his wife Janay, his two grandchildren Emma and Reece, and his two stepsons Joseph and Andrew also survive George.
Rehn took ill on Sunday March 29, and after taking a fall inside his East Setauket residence, was rushed that evening to Stony Brook Hospital. He was confirmed positive for Covid 19 while at Stony Brook. With underlying health issues, he developed pneumonia, and passed away on Palm Sunday.
“It’s so tragic,” said Ocean Beach Association President Maria Silsdorf. “He died by himself at Stony Brook. And his wife is in Florida and won’t be able to attend the burial.”
The lonely end for a man that gave so much makes his departure all the more stinging. His presence will be deeply missed among the many lives he touched.
This article was updated on May 6, 2020.
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