Suffolk County NY Oct 2 2008
Eight, maybe 10, minutes went by as Stacey Reister stood silently, staring into her husband’s soft, laughing eyes. She could not look away from his smile, the arch of his eyebrows or the rosy plumpness of his cheeks.Andrew was there, right there. Big, and wide and colorful.
Just as he’d been in life.”Wow,” Reister would say, over and over again as she gazed at a mural done by inmates at the Suffolk County jail in Riverhead to honor her late husband, Andrew Reister.
He was a correction officer who died violently at age 40 while working at a part-time job as a bouncer last August.
He was choked by a bar patron he had asked to stop dancing on a table, police said.
“He looks like himself,” said Stacey Reister, who could not stop staring at the mural it took Gregory Roosa, 35, and Thomas Green, 28, two weeks to complete.”He looks so happy, so peaceful, like the man he was,” she said. “Not like a man who died violently.”"That’s comforting,” she added, “because he was not the man people saw on the news.
“The man on the news is a victim. A father of two whose wife had to make the difficult decision to remove him from life support days after police said he grappled with a suspect, Anthony Oddone. Oddone is being held at Rikers Island awaiting trial on charges stemming from Reister’s death.The man in the mural was much, much more, even to the men he was paid to keep in line each day at the jail.”I worked real hard on his smile,” said Roosa, who has served more
“I worked real hard on his smile,” said Roosa, who has served more than one jail stint for convictions that include criminal possession of stolen property. “He was always smiling.”Green didn’t talk much. He let his work speak for him. It was his idea to add an angel to the mural. And the gates of heaven.”He was a good person and we all know that’s where he is,” said Green, whose pencil portrait of Reister hangs from a bulletin board not far from the mural.Nearby, Orlin Flores, 31, was trying to avoid the cameras at the unveiling.
He sat in the back row of a community room where inmates – split into sections marked “Floors,” for maximum-security prisoners and “Pods,” for medium-security prisoners – gather for meetings.And for prayer.
“I’m in here for something that caught up with me,” Flores said. “I am working to turn my life around.”Flores was invited to the mural’s unveiling because he contributed the largest sum – $150 – to a fund prisoners started for Reister’s family.
“When I read about the children, about how he took them to Splish Splash, I had to do something,” he said. “I have four children, and those are the things we do together. I couldn’t have his children go without.”Together, the inmates contributed $1,155.22 of their commissary money – in sums that included $1, $3, $50 and $100 – to help Stacey Reister and the couple’s two young children. No one could remember the last time something like that happened.
“Thank you,” Reister’s wife said to the men.
For a few minutes, the small room, isolated by three metal gates from the facility’s front door, wasn’t filled with prisoners and keepers.
“Officer Reister had a job to do, but he was also good to people,” Roos told Stacey Reister.”Yeah,” she agreed, “he treated people like human beings.
“Behind them, overlooking the small community room, Andrew Reister gazed down. And smiled.
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