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Sep 23, 2008 12:02 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Community coming together to support family of Andrew Reister

Sep 23, 2008 12:02 PM

Those who knew him remember the late Andrew Reister for two things: his emphasis on the importance of family, and his love of golf.

Two events planned for the first week of October give those who didn’t know him a chance to “live two days in the life of Andrew Reister,” according to his brother, James Reister of Calverton, who is planning “Andrew Reister’s Family Day” on October 5 at the Southampton Elks Lodge fairgrounds. On the following day, the proprietor of Shinnecock Hardware in Hampton Bays, Tom Maloney, is organizing a memorial golf tournament at Gardiners Bay Country Club on Shelter Island.

Both events will benefit Mr. Reister’s family, his widow, Stacey, and his two young children.

The Hampton Bays resident died at the age of 40 on August 9, two days after a patron at the Southampton Publick House put him in a chokehold and held on after Mr. Reister fell unconscious, according to police. Mr. Reister, a Suffolk County corrections officer who was moonlighting at the tavern as an ID checker, had asked the patron, 25-year-old Anthony Oddone of Farmingville, to stop dancing on a table, police said, prompting Mr. Oddone to attack.

Mr. Oddone, who is being held without bail at Rikers Island prison, is due in court today, Thursday, September 25, for a conference with Suffolk County Criminal Court Judge C. Randall Hinrichs.

James Reister said he has not been paying attention to Mr. Oddone’s court schedule, and he pointed out that his brother’s fellow corrections officers—Andrew Reister’s extended family—have promised to represent the family at every one of Mr. Oddone’s court appearances.

He also said he is not harboring anger, explaining he felt it would be selfish on his part and unfair to his family members to dwell on hate instead of concentrating on taking care of his family.

That’s where the Family Day comes in. Mr. Reister has been a member of the Elks for three years, and he said when he approached the lodge leadership a couple of weeks ago about hosting a benefit for his brother’s family, they were eager to help. “That’s what the Elks is all about,” Mr. Reister said.

Mr. Reister has arranged for a petting zoo, obstacle courses and ice cream trucks for the event. Vivian and The Merrymakers and Big Band East are also giving their time and performing for free, he said.

More important to Stacey Reister and the kids than the money raised will be the community members’ show of support, Mr. Reister predicted. “This is what small towns are all about,” he said. “This is what we do. We step up to help other people out.”

It also helps that the Reisters have deep roots in Southampton, Mr. Reister said, noting that his and his brother’s children are the fourth generation to be born at Southampton Hospital. His brother was a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal service organization, and the president of the Suffolk County Correction Officers Benevolent Association, Mr. Reister pointed out.

“That just goes to show the kind of guy he is,” he said. Mr. Reister said the community is now reciprocating the good his brother did in his life.

The community’s support and prayers have made the loss easier for the family to get through, Mr. Reister said, although he admitted he still thinks about it each night when he goes to sleep and every morning when he wakes up.

“I’m still in shock every day that I live,” he said.

Before his brother died, they spoke every day and often played golf together, Mr. Reister said. He recalled one day when they flew from Long Island at 5 a.m. to play 18 holes at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina and flew home the same day after having a tie game.

Lately, Mr. Reister’s time for golf has been spent planning the Family Day instead. Like his late brother did, Mr. Reister works multiple jobs to support his family, he said, leaving him precious little free time. He is a salesman at Mini of the Hamptons and a bartender at Shippy’s, both in Southampton. He also works at the Publick House as a bouncer twice a week. Even though his brother was choked there, he said he still feels safe there and is comfortable that it’s a family establishment.

James Reister is seven years younger than his late brother, but he towered over him at 6 feet 9 inches tall, 5 inches taller than his “big” brother—the height difference gave him the advantage when they played basketball, he said. Mr. Reister also said because of the age difference, his older brother was like a father figure to him.

“Andrew instilled a little bit of himself in a lot of people,” Mr. Reister said. He added that he sees his brother and his sister-in-law Stacey in the couple’s children, David, 8, and Mary Grace, 4. “She’s a great mother and she really knows how to take care of the children,” he said.

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