Family, Friends & Fellow Officers Remember...

Police Officer Richard Rehmann

Philadelphia Police Department, Pennsylvania

End of Watch Thursday, July 28, 1966

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Reflections for Police Officer Richard Rehmann

What happens to the families of officers cut down in the prime of life? How do their survivors cope with the loss of their loved ones?



It's not easy, but life goes on.

Betty Rehmann is one of the hundreds of people whose lives were changed when their spouses or other family members were killed in the line of duty.

Unlike many police widows who learned about the deaths of their husbands by getting the "dreaded knock on the door," she had some warning. Her husband, Officer Richard Rehmann was wounded on the job the night of July 20, 1966, and died eight days later.

He was the father of seven children, then ages 3 to 12.

She wasn't overly concerned when he didn't arrive at their Juniata home at the usual time after working the 4 p.m.-midnight shift. She assumed he had arrested someone and gotten tied up with paperwork. So she went to bed.

In the morning, she saw his bloody shirt and handkerchief soaking in the bathroom sink.

When she asked him about the items, he answered:

"Oh, I got hit in the head during an arrest. Don't worry about it."

"He knew how much I worried about him, so he made it a point never to tell me details of his night's work."

Since the cut on his head appeared to be minor, the Rehmanns and their seven children went on vacation to Hammonton, N.J., his hometown. While the family was on a side trip to Lake Absagamee, in Tuckerton, she said, Rehmann keeled over in the water.

Pulled out of the lake, he didn't respond to first aid and was taken to Atlantic City Hospital, where he died of a cerebral hemorrhage after eight days in a coma. He was 33; his widow was the same age.

His death was considered job-related, so his widow and the seven children were awarded benefits.

"But it wasn't enough to buy shoes for seven kids, so I went to work."

She worked for several years at Northeast Catholic High School, and now is a secretary at the Thomas Jefferson University Cancer Institute.

Her oldest son, Ron, 39, had these comments about his mother:

"She's a good lady. She stuck with us big time after Dad was killed. And we've all turned out well."

Ron is a federal police officer who works at the Navy Yard and has been decorated twice for heroism. The other survivors are Terry John, 38; Diane, 36; Gary, 35; Rick, 32; and Scott, 30. Daughter Janet, an honor student and vice president of her class at Frankford High School, died at 18. There are 15 grandchildren, with two more on the way.

Betty Rehmann said her husband always wanted to be a policeman. He worked as a milkman for Sealtest before joining the force.

"I didn't want him to be a policeman," Rehmann said. "The job is much too dangerous."

But she settled into being the wife of a policeman, and has some fond

memories of those days.

"Before he left home for duty," she recalled, "he would stop at the mirror to check his appearance, making absolutely certain he would 'pass inspection.' His shoes were shined, the bill on his police hat was sparkling, his hat and jacket badges were polished, his tie was straight, the crease in his pants was sharp. He was proud to be a Philadelphia cop. And I was proud of him.

"He would kiss me and say, 'See you later,' and I would say, 'OK.'

"Whether or not a wife of a policemen really likes the idea that her husband is a policeman, she accepts all that his being one implies.

"She often says a silent prayer whenever she thinks of her husband throughout the day: 'Lord, please keep him safe and bring him home to us.' "

A deeply religious person, Rehmann is a eucharistic minister, serving communion at St. Joachim's Roman Catholic Church, and also serves on the parish council.

A dancer at Little Flower High School when she was growing up in Kensington, Rehmann formerly served as choreographer for musicals performed at North Catholic.

Rehmann is one of many police officers' survivors who are helped by belonging to the Delaware County chapter of COPS (Concerns of Police Survivors), a national organization that serves as a support group for the

families of police officers killed in the line of duty.

"When my husband died, I was on my own," she said. "No organization like COPS existed.

"As wives of policemen, we were primed for the possibility of the inevitable. And, as widows, we are survivors of the reality of that inevitability.

"This group dedicates itself to help police survivors in whatever way that help is needed. There is so much compassion, so much consolation, so much unexpected and knowledgeable help provided - no strings attached."

At 7 p.m. Dec. 18, the local chapter of COPS will hold a candelight vigil in honor of all police officers at the Eternal Flame Memorial at Franklin Square, 6th and Race streets.

"I'll be there," Rehmann said. "And so will many members of our chapter. I invite everyone to join in this ceremony to remember the sacrifices made by police officers who serve us.

"And at Christmas, you will see a blue light in my window to honor the men and women who walk the thin blue line."

What is it like being a widow of a policeman?

Betty Rehmann has this answer:

"Never does a holiday, a birthday, an anniversary, a blessed event like a graduation from high school, the marriage of a child, the birth of a grandchild, never does it seem complete. Because he's not there. And he should be."

Family
Son

August 12, 2016

Daddy,

We are coming up on 50 years, but it still feels like yesterday. I feel you everyday and thank you (and mom) for making me the person I am today. Thank you for keeping me, and Philadelphia, safe.

You are truly loved and will never be forgotten.

Di

Diane Rehmann
Daughter

July 23, 2016

I know you are with me, thank you for watching over our family. 1111

Erin Grobelny
Grandaughter

June 15, 2016

Police Officer Richard REHMANN ... the passage of time will never diminish our sincere appreciation for your dedicated service and ultimate sacrifice for us. God Bless You

another grateful citizen

July 28, 2015

To fully appreciate the heroes of the present, we must recognize our heroes of the past. Your heroism and service is honored today, the 47th anniversary year of your death. I am priviliged to leave a tribute to you. Your memory lives and you continue to inspire. Thank you for your service. My cherished son Larry Lasater was a fellow police officer who was murdered in the line of duty on April 24, 2005 while serving as a Pittsburg, CA police officer.

Time never diminishes respect. Your memory will always be honored and revered. Rest In Peace.

I pray for the solace of all those that love and miss you for I know both the pain and pride are forever. Thanks to your family and friends for sharing their devotion to you through their reflections.

Phyllis Lasater Loya
mom of fallen Pittsburg (CA) officer Larry Lasater

January 21, 2013

I want to thank you all for your relections on the the sacrafice that my father offered in the overall protection of the city of Philadelphia.
He was a very honored man and received commendations as a result of his efforts.
I thank you all very much.
Always remembered

Terry Rehmann
Son of Richard Rehmann

September 14, 2011

May you always rest in peace and know that you will never be forgotten.

Cpl/1 Steven Rizzo
Delaware State Police

July 28, 2008

Thank you for your sacrifice.

Former Police Officer
District Heights Police Dept. (MD)

July 28, 2008

Officer Rehmann,
On today, the 42nd anniversary of your death, I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Philadelphia. And to your family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.

R.I.P.
Anonymous

Anonymous

July 28, 2008

Always remembered.

Cpl/1 Steven Rizzo
Delaware State Police

July 28, 2007

Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family, friends and all the members of the Philadelphia Police Department. We were made safer by his service and we all suffer their tragic loss. The family of Officer Rehmann deserves our appreciation and gratitude for their sacrifice. In the days to follow, may you be strengthened by the fact that Officer Rehmann is a man distinguished by exceptional courage and will always be admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. You, your family and your sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Tom Doyle
Cary Police Department, NC

May 24, 2006

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