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Three Village Chamber

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Members of the Three Village Chamber unveil a memorial bench dedicated to Rehn outside his former office. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Sunday, Oct. 25, would have been George Rehn’s 72nd birthday.

The East Setauket resident was rushed to Stony Brook University Hospital on March 29. While there, he tested positive for COVID-19 and passed away from pneumonia on April 3.

Because his death came at the height of the pandemic, a delayed public memorial was held this week in two locations – both that were dear to him.

A memorial plaque for George Rehn placed alongside Stony Brook Harbor. Photo by Julianne Mosher

At noon on Oct. 25, dozens gathered at the Stony Brook Memorial Garden in Stony Brook Harbor, near Sand Street Beach, to pay their respects and to remember the good times they had with their father, friend and colleague. 

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) told the crowd he knew Rehn for more than 35 years. 

“He didn’t wear his heart on his sleeve, but he wore it every day,” Romaine said. “He gave his heart to everything he did.”

For several decades, Rehn was committed to his community. A certified public accountant, he worked out of his East Setauket office located on Route 25A, across from Se-Port Delicatessen. 

He was a member of the Rotary Club of Stony Brook for nearly 40 years and was also an active member of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce. On top of that, he was involved with the Three Village Historical Society and was the treasurer of several campaigns, including one for Romaine, as well as a CPA for many local nonprofits. He was always there to help, and to tell a joke.

“Although he was taken far too soon from this terrible pandemic, he will be remembered as all good people should be,” Romaine added. “George did so much for the Three Village community and for the world.”

The plaque with his name was unveiled right by the water – one of Rehn’s favorite places. 

“He taught me how a ferry ride to Fire Island could fix anything,” his daughter, Jen Rehn, said. 

While he was a community pillar on the North Shore, the CPA was also devoted to the South Shore. He brought his eagerness to assist in any way he could to Fire Island, where he frequently visited. 

“He was truly a gracious person,” Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said to the crowd. “We lost a great and important pillar of our community. We will never forget the contributions he made.”

And that’s why people showed up Sunday afternoon, to remember Rehn who loved where he lived. 

After the ceremony in Stony Brook,  attendees went to Rehn’s office in East Setauket to join the Three Village Chamber in unveiling a memorial bench dedicated to his name. 

Carmine Inserra, vice president of the chamber and owner of ProSysCon, shared his memories of Rehn to the crowd outside the office building they shared.

“He was a man of jokes, he was always there,” Inserra said. “I loved sharing an office with him. … And I want to carry on a legacy like he did here in the community.”

“The Three Village community and the Rotary were really important to my dad,” Rehn’s daughter said. “We’re just really touched.”

Her brother, Scott, agreed. 

“They say that the people who show up to your funeral is a representation of who you were as a person,” he said. “I think that shows here today. We all have the same amount of time here, it only matters what you do with it.” 

Rehn is survived by his wife, Liz; daughter Jen (John); son Scott (Janay); grandchildren Emma and Reece; and stepsons Joseph and Andrew.

Andrew Polan serves on Three Village Chamber of Commerce as well as the North Shore Jewish Center, where he was recently sworn in as the newest president. Photo from David Woods

Andrew Polan has had a busy year.

The North Shore native was recently re-elected to serve another term as president of Three Village Chamber of Commerce. Over the summer, he was appointed the next president of the North Shore Jewish Center over the summer, and was sworn in in late September. Polan has been a tireless servant to the North Shore for more than the past decade and those close to him said they were happy to have him at the helm.

“Andy speaks softly, acts quietly, and gets things done,” said David Woods, executive director for Three Village Chamber of Commerce.

Polan has held many positions at the North Shore Jewish Center, including a trustee on the board for 12 years, building chair, treasurer and executive vice president. He has been a congregant there for 15 years.

Projects he has worked on include a brick engraving fundraiser, where members of the congregation could buy a brick in memory of a loved one.

Charlie Lefkowitz, chamber vice president, who, aside from working with Polan in the chamber also worked with him in the Jewish Center, helped with a recent brick dedication ceremony. He said Polan did a really nice job creating a beautiful front entrance, and that Polan is “really a unique individual.”

“This was meant to deepen community ties, and keep us all together,” Polan said of the project.

Lefkowitz also spoke of the work Polan has done to improve the annual beach barbecue held at West Meadow Beach. Lefkowitz said it started with approximately 150 attendees and has grown into more than 600 guests.

“People love to come and enjoy the camaraderie. It takes a great deal of planning; it’s really the chamber’s signature event,” said Lefkowitz.

And Polan is really all about the camaraderie, he said. He considers himself a community-based individual, and believes in the importance of people stepping up to the plate to further the quality of the community.

“I really just don’t know how to keep my hand down,” Polan said about why he volunteers for so many different organizations.

One of Polan’s favorite chamber events, and the newest one, just started this year, is the Shop Local event. Polan believes this event helps enhance the local community.

“It truly ties the students and local businesses of Three Village together, and highlights the importance of keeping money in the community,” Polan said.

Polan has been an optician for more than 30 years, and is part of a family of opticians. He was the vice president of the New York State Society for Opticians less than a decade ago. He has owned Stony Brook Vision World since it opened 17 years ago.

Former board president Robert Brown worked with Polan for many years when Polan was just a trustee on the board. One project Brown thought Polan handled very successfully was the creation of a new welcome sign located on the northeast corner of Nicolls Road and Route 347.

“It makes a pleasant intro to the community, blending both the town, the university, and the university hospital together. Polan has always proven to be a stable, thoughtful individual that knows how to get things done in a quiet way,” said Brown.

Rabbi Aaron Benson, the rabbi of the North Shore Jewish Center, is optimistic about Polan’s future with the center.

“I think he will be able to bring a great sense of community, he has a good head on his shoulders. He will make a good president because he’s the type of businessman who is always looking to try and help people. He will open up new opportunities and help us grow together,” Benson said.