Atlantic City Press
Ed Rehill was a friendly and well-liked man who taught a lot of people how to row. He led by example because he was a serious rower into his 80s.
A Brigantine resident, he was the president of the Brigantine Rowing Club and a longtime assistant and sculling coach for the Holy Spirit girls crew team.
Rehill died Sept. 4 at the age of 83.
The Holy Spirit girls crew team is based at the Brigantine Rowing Club. The boathouse at the club is named after Rehill.
Rehill was a sculler for West Catholic High School in Philadelphia and coached many successful Holy Spirit scullers in more than 30 years of coaching.
In sculling, the rower has two oars instead of one, and there is no coxswain. The boats are smaller, usually single, double or quad.
Rehill helped to start the Holy Spirit girls crew program in 1983, and most of his years he assisted for Joe Welsh, who became an assistant coach in 1985 and the head coach in 1991. Welsh has recently returned to coach the Spartans again.
“Ed would take kids who were undersized and teach them how to row,” Welsh, 61, said. “He’d teach them other things, like nutrition. He turned them into winners. He had (sculling) rowers who won Stotesbury and the Nationals (the high school crew regular season’s top regattas), and he had quads win the (Philadelphia) City Championships. The kids really believed in him. He did a tremendous job with them, and he helped the team have great success.
“He was a really good guy and had a great sense of humor. He will certainly be missed, not just by the rowing community but by all who knew him.”
Former Holy Spirit coxswain Michelle Perry said Rehill helped her in that task. She was a coxswain four years and graduated in 1999.
“He worked with me on steering the boat, finding the point, motivating and gaining the respect of the crew,” said Perry, 39, now a resident of Washington, D.C. “He was a man in his 60s, but he was in great shape and worked out with you. He was a wise man, mild-mannered and kind.”
Michael Hurley, a former Villanova University men’s and women’s crew coach, rowed with Rehill for several summers in Brigantine.
“Ed could always relate to younger people,” said Hurley, 66, of Newtown, Pennsylvania. “He had a way about him that he connected with people. He was serious about rowing but easy going.
“One time we were out rowing in Brigantine, and there was a dense fog, and he said, ‘We’re lost.’ I said, ‘How can you be lost? Your name’s on the boathouse, and you’re like Mr. Brigantine.’ Then we heard voices and he said, ‘If that’s the clammers I know where we are.’ We rowed toward the voices and found our way back.”
Maria McCann, a former Holy Spirit rower and 1999 graduate, called Rehill a true legend.
“He taught me how to row,” said McCann, 39, now living in Haddon Township, Camden County. “He taught me how to be a leader and push myself. It was great to know him. He made such a difference in my life.”
Rehill served in the Navy. He was a member of Pipefitters Union Local 322 for more than 50 years. He also loved skiing and bike riding, and was a certified pilot. He was instrumental in starting and running the Brigantine Hockey League for many years.
He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Rosemarie (Lerro) Rehill, children Thomas (Michele) Rehill, Theresa (Mark) Aaron, Edward (Monica) Rehill III and Michael (Lisa) Rehill, and eight grandchildren. He was predeceased by another grandson, Ryan Rehill.
Photo Credit: Craig Matthews, Atlantic City Press