In one sweeping move, it started with the great smile.
Next was the hearty handshake.
Then the always friendly, “Hi. How’s it going?”
Happened all the time, especially at basketball courts around town …
Like Goleta Boys & Girls Club …. Page Youth Cen … and St. Mary’s Seminary high above Mission Canyon’s Skofield Park.
Yes, it was always nice to see Steve Rehage and get that warm greeting!
His sudden passing last week shocked all who knew him …
“Still can’t believe it,” says Sal Rodriguez, Goleta Boys & Girls Club Legend.
“Steve was an incredible guy … always generous in whatever asked … he served on the United Boys & Girls Club board and was president coming out of our most challenging times … he was active in his Rotary … just a wonderful, wonderful community guy with a heart of gold … and when it came to basketball, he sure could shoot, too!”
And as it eventually happens to all hoop warriors — that classic, picture-perfect jump shot lost some ‘hang time’ over the years…
Yet masterful with that sweet little fade at the end.
“You could barely slide a credit card under his feet when launched,” quipped his young, athletically-gifted son and fellow hoopster, Conner, during a break in the action last year.
These are strong basketball bonds …
Both Rehage men have treasured this magical time shared together in sport … along with all the camaraderie of friendly competition and easy banter that defines the local b-ball scene …
“Steve was a great mentor to me and many others,” shares seasoned player, Mateo Limon.
“He helped me tremendously with introductions on-and-off the court,” adds Mike Baker, brand new CEO of the United Boys & Girls Club. “Any instant credibility I received was only because it was Steve doing the intros — he was a very special person.”
“When I returned to playing after a long injury layoff, Steve was the very first one to welcome me back,” says Big Bob Ficarra. “I’ll never forget that. He was one of the best!”
Off the court, The Rehage Legacy shines just as brightly…
MVP life credentials are many, including these highlights:
Awesome dad to Jennifer, Conner & Christine.
Proud papa to young grandkids, Benjamin & Brooklyn.
Devoted family man.
Successful business leader with impeccable credentials who would regularly go ‘the extra mile.’
Caring, committed community luminary.
All performed with his signature brand of good natured-ness and humility.
A genuine concern for others was in his ‘DNA’ — and wonderful wife, Cindy, would be with him at his side at many fundraisers around town in support of their favorite cause – kids, and helping keep them on a positive path.
“Great futures start here,” … Steve lived it.
He was a dear friend to many …
And none better to Joe Lanza, a local CPA.
“We met through a mutual client in the 1980s and later started playing b-ball together and even racquetball for awhile,” Lanza says.
Nearly 30 years later, it was Steve who quickly sprang into action to organize a special gift for his buddy’s milestone birthday — to realize Joe’s dream of playing one last time, achy knees and all, with old pals — something only casually shared.
“Steve was my best friend, the best man at my wedding in 2006… he was just one of those very special people whom you were always happy to see … he was ‘a rock’ … always upbeat and he made you feel instantly comfortable … Alice and I miss him terribly … it’s such a huge, huge loss.”
He modeled life’s key ingredients – family, helping others and making a positive impact.
“We’ve lost one of the good ones,” Sal states.
His untimely passing leaves a huge void in many lives and in the Santa Barbara community.
We’ll miss that always smile and his many selfless gifts.
And we will certainly always remember that Steve Rehage lived life, much like he played basketball …
With just the right touch.