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Aug 12, 2008 6:44 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

The victim and the accused

Aug 12, 2008 6:44 PM

Whether or not they crossed paths prior to last Thursday morning, the lives of Andrew Reister, a 40-year-old corrections officer from Hampton Bays, and Anthony Oddone, a 25-year-old employee of The Bridge, a golf club in Noyac, collided, with devastating results.

Today, Mr. Reister will be buried, and Mr. Oddone is in custody, indicted by a grand jury and possibly facing a murder charge in the older man’s death.

On Tuesday, Mr. Reister’s widow, Stacey, recalled when she began dating her future husband in 1986 at Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead. They married a few years later, and were married nearly 20 years.

Ms. Reister said they actually met long before college, because their families had mutual friends. There are even some photographs showing them together as kids, she said, adding lightheartedly, “I never talked to him because he was a boy.”

Her husband was a Southampton native, having grown up on Majors Path. The couple eventually settled where she was raised, in Hampton Bays.

They have a 4-year-old daughter, Mary Grace, and an 8-year-old son, David. An infant daughter, Danielle Marie, died in February 1998.

Mr. Reister coached Little League, tee-ball and played in an adult basketball league, said Ms. Reister, a nursery school teacher. He was an avid golfer, too, able to drive a ball 350 yards with no problem, she said. In fact, she said his friends would assume they would lose a round of golf before it started if they were competing against him.

He was also among a group of Hampton Bays residents who, in July 2007, assisted a 90-year-old neighbor and his dog when both were trapped a partially submerged car during a storm.

Mr. Reister was a corrections officer for 15 years, serving as the officers’ benevolent association treasurer for 10 years before being elected president this past year, Ms. Reister said. The benevolent association has been wonderful, she said, even coming to her house with groceries and to mow the lawn.

The Suffolk County Correction Officers Association, the officers’ union, also started the Andrew Reister Welfare Fund to provide aid to Mr. Reister’s family and create scholarships for his children.

“He would be thrilled to know how much everybody stepped up,” Ms. Reister said. “A lot of people don’t recognize corrections officers the way they should be recognized,” she added. She called them “unsung heroes,” saying that they work behind cement walls, where people cannot see their work, unlike with police officers.

“When you grow up as a little boy, no one says, ‘I want to work at the jail,’” she said. But Mr. Reister knew there was steady pay, benefits, and the “band of blue” that ties officers together, she said. “He did it because he knew that it was secure for his family.”

Her husband was in charge of the county jail’s law library, making sure prisoners had access to research materials for their cases, she said.

Even the inmates have been asking how they can help with their commissary money, she said. “That’s how much everybody loved him,” she said, later pointing out, “That’s the first time in the history of the jail that they wanted to do this.”

The Southampton Town Police Department announced Monday that it anticipates a large number of mourners will attend Mr. Reister’s funeral on Thursday, August 14, at 10 a.m. at St. Rosalie’s Catholic Church in Hampton Bays. The department said that Montauk Highway will be closed in Hampton Bays between Bittersweet South Extension and Springville Road from 9 a.m. to noon for the funeral procession.

Ms. Reister also pointed out that her husband was an organ donor. “They were able to harvest two kidneys, a liver, some skin, bone and tissue,” she said, adding that she knows someone received one of her husband’s kidneys and that patient is doing great. She also said that other organs, such as his heart and lungs, could not be donated because of injuries sustained in the attack.

Susan Dean of Hampton Bays, Ms. Reister’s sister, said her brother-in-law was “the real-deal good guy,” an excellent provider for his family and a straight shooter. He is also the godfather to her three children, she noted.

Her husband, Christopher Dean, is also a corrections officer at the Riverhead facility like Mr. Reister, she said. “We’re a very small family, so we’re very close,” Ms. Dean said.

Vito Dagnello, the Suffolk County Correction Officers Association president, described Mr. Reister as a devoted father and husband.

He went on to say that as the benevolent association president, Mr. Reister was always there to help out. “There isn’t a person, corrections officer, or anyone who met Andrew Reister who didn’t love him,” Mr. Dagnello said.

As for accused assailant Anthony Oddone, one friend said the allegations against him were shocking and hard to believe.

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