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Clayton G. Rein

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Clayton G. Rein Obituary
Rein, Clayton G.
Family man, developer, art collector, gallerist, and philanthropist: On Sunday, December 27, 2015 at age 99, Clayt Rein passed away quietly in his sleep at Hospice of the Valley in Scottsdale, Arizona. Born on December 9, 1916, Clayt overcame a background of poverty and an education cut short in the 8th grade by the need to help support his family. The son of Russian immigrants, he was always a hard worker, and he began by selling rags on the streets of the West Side. He tried many vocations as a youngster, including haberdashery, carpentry, sales, and making bedsprings for mattresses. He even grew a moustache to make himself look older so that he could work though still a minor. He married Rose Mintz in 1939 and they had three children together, Judy, Burt, and Stan. At about this time Clayt worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Unable to join the military for World War II because he was married and a father, he instead joined the Merchant Marine and served in the Pacific Theatre. After his tour of duty, he returned to St. Paul with a modest savings, opened a real estate brokerage firm, and began selling and building homes. In 1958 Clayt married his second wife, Ginny, with whom he devotedly shared the rest of his life. He embraced and raised her two young children, Bob and Trish, as his own - making for an ever-widening and blended Rein clan. Over the years, his business expanded to include the construction and management of apartment buildings and shopping centers, three tennis and health clubs, and art galleries in 5 states. To each endeavor he brought a creative twist. For example, he was among the first gallery owners to lease art to office buildings and their tenants. Lilydale Tennis Club, built in part to provide Clayt with a nearby facility in which to improve his own game, was state of the art for its time. It soon became a local favorite, and even today, 8 years after it closed, past members and their guests still miss the camaraderie and amenities he insisted on providing. In the 1950's, 60's, and 70's, he was politically active and a champion of progressive Democratic policies. He and his wife, Ginny, chaired the committee that brought the national governors' conference to Minnesota. The event was a great success, in no small part due to Clayt and Ginny's energy and creativity. He counted Governor Karl Rolvaag, Senator Hubert Humphrey, and St. Paul Mayor George Latimer among his friends and allies in the mission to give a fair shake to all needing a helping hand up the ladder of success. Clayt was instrumental in the passage of legislation requiring the payment of annual interest on security deposits to Minnesota renters. In his leadership role as a founding member of the Minnesota Multi-Housing Association, he advanced the fight to rid Minnesota, particularly in multi-unit apartment buildings and the organizations that managed them, of racial discrimination. He was the first Minnesota realtor to hire an African American salesman, and he employed many immigrants new to America. He sought good salespeople from every background who shared his progressive values. He was one of the founding members of the International Shopping Center Association. He valued small business owners and often helped them get started. Hard work, incredible energy, and dedication to achieving professional goals were the hallmark of Clayt's adult life, providing him with the means to travel extensively, collect art, enjoy a varied and physically active lifestyle, and practice his native generosity. He was a quietly charitable man, typically not mentioning or ever seeking credit for his gifts, whether to family members, strangers, or charitable organizations. He had many favorite causes, including the Ronald McDonald House, United Jewish Fund and Council of St. Paul, and various local theatres, music venues, and museums. His most favored charities always involved children. Clayt was a lifelong comedian, possessed of a droll, abiding, and infectious sense of humor. With laughter as his touchstone, he developed a facility for public speaking, leading to many engagements as host of both public and private meetings and events. As humorists do, he collected a great many jokes, which he diligently organized into categories for future use. During later travels with his wife, Ginny, their grown children and significant others, family "happy hours" were literally just that: occasions for back and forth joke telling by all, creating much laughter, wonderful memories, and joy all around. While hard work, career, travel, and professional accomplishments were important factors throughout his life, he always had time for his first priority, his family. His children were his most rewarding venture, and he spent many years deepening family ties and gaining a growing sense of pride in all the branches of his expanding family tree. Even in his 90's, when any of his children or grandchildren brought home a new partner to meet, he extended to each one a warm and loving "welcome to the family". He was preceded in death by his parents, Louis and Anna Rein; brothers David Rein (Ethel) and Irving Rein; sisters Molly Winter (Henry) and Tillie Gould (Soll); his and Ginny's son, Bob Rein; daughter-in-law, Linda Rein; granddaughter Paige Breunig; former wife of eighteen years, Rose Brown, and all those in the greater extended family who have gone before. Clayt is survived by his devoted wife of 58 years, Virginia (Ginny) E. Rein, the love of his life, who worked side by side with him for most of his business career, traveled the world with him, and helped him nurture both his and her children. Theirs was a marriage that stood as a model of devotion and respect to friends and family alike and gave all those around them inspiration and hope for their own relationships. Also surviving him are his children and their spouses or significant others, whom he loved as his own: Judy Hoffman (Jerry), Trish Cowle (Brad), Burt Rein (Martin Lichtenstein), Stan Rein (Jane Silberstein), and Kathy Rein. Clayt also leaves behind grandchildren Shandin Shaw (Pat), Robin Getsug, Tony Getsug (Marie), Heather Rein (Patrick Hynes), Erin Loavenbruck (Adam), Gabe Rein (Kim Harper), Leah Rein (Deano Cacciapalle), Ian MacKinnon (Allison) and Shannon Breen (Eric); and twelve great grandchildren, all of whom he adored. In addition, there are many other surviving members of the extended Rein family, too numerous to name, but who Clayt loved and cherished individually. Clayt was a witness, for nearly a century, to incredible changes, both in his personal life and in the world around him. He was an avid reader with a passion for keeping up with world events, which he could discuss insightfully at any time with anyone, always noting his own position as a self-described fiscal conservative and social liberal. He continued to grow professionally and personally throughout each decade of his remarkable life. To those who knew and loved him, his life was exemplary - he showed by his example how to live joyfully and actively, but with honesty, integrity, charity, and respect for equal rights; to value hard work, friendship, exercise, humor, love of learning, and the arts; and to live life to the fullest. We thank his many friends, both new and old, who helped him fill his life and theirs with laughter and fun. To those who have passed on and those still here, you will always be appreciated and loved by Clayt's family. A very special thank you goes to Letitia Berrones, caregiver, who provided countless hours of devotion and comfort to Clayt over the last few years. We also thank Hospice of the Valley staff for the gentle assistance and sensitive care they provided. Memorials are preferred to Ronald McDonald House (Minnesota), United Jewish Fund and Council of St. Paul (Minnesota), Hospice of the Valley (Arizona), or the donor's . A memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 23 at 2:30 PM at the Messinger Funeral Home, 8555 E Pinnacle Peak Rd, Scottsdale, Arizona. A memorial service will be held in Minnesota in early spring. A further notice will follow with the Minnesota memorial location and date.


Published in The Arizona Republic on Jan. 6, 2016
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