13 January 2012

Condolences to Chris Reyna on the passing of his father Leo

Jan 13, 2012 -- Chris Reyna wrote the following tribute to his father, Leo, who has just died. Chris has given us permission to share it so that the community can know of his loss.

"Yesterday was a sad day for me....my dear Dad, Leo died in his sleep at my sister Susan¹s home in Tallahassee. He had become increasingly frail since Thanksgiving. He was fiercely independent, and lived the past year in a little rented house on his own.  He was just down the road from Susie. On New Year¹s Day, she moved him into her home to make it easier for both of them.  Susie was his primary care giver, but he also had a stable of Hospice nurses who visited to bath, and help care for him.  His favorite was a femme fatale music therapist who came with her own electric keyboard every week to play and sing the classic song book with Leo. They had a great time singing, laughing, and telling stories together (She was on her 5th husband).
" I experienced this first hand, when I visited and cared for him last October for 10 days while Susie took a break, and went to Fort Lauderdale to organize his personal papers down there.  Dad and I had a fun time watching a Turner Classic Movies History of Hollywood Series: Moguls & Movie Stars. Every day for 7 days in a row, we would watch an episode, stop and talk about the movies, the actors and the actresses (His favorite was Joan Crawford).
He also reminisced about his doing in those decades. I heard some amazing stories about his life in the Hebrew Orphan Asylum of New York, singing in the Catskills with Phil Silvers to earn money to go to college in Missouri, and then Graduate School at the University of Iowa for his PhD, onto South Africa for his first professorship, and then on to his life at Boston University.  Of course there were three marriages, five children, and countless stories. I was so happy to spend that time with him, and I know he felt the same way about sharing it with me. When Susie came back we celebrated his 93rd birthday.

"I am on my way to Florida today to help my sister Susie. Leo will be cremated now, but the family will decide to do a memorial sometime in the future. I am hoping that it can be in Massachusetts where our family of 5 kids grew up.

"Life of Brian" image: RottenTomatoes.com
"My Dad had a great life...he was honored in his profession of Psychology; loved by friends, and family. He died with dignity and in the loving care of my sister Susie.

"My Dad loved to sing...so I'll just end with a line from a song from the Life of Brian from which the Reynas always took an oddly ironic comfort:

'Always look on the bright side of life...'  Feel free to whistle along and think of my Dad."

We last caught up with Chris Reyna in a report about his technical work with three major film festivals in Los Angeles, Doha and Telluride. In 2012, he will again be working with the Turner Classic Movie Festival in Los Angeles April 12-15, and will also be technical director for the presentation of the Abel Gance silent classic "Napoleon" March 24, 25 and 30 and April 1 at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, as part of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.