In loving memory of Howie Blas.
Howie Blas was a founder of the Reher Center, a dear personal friend of Hymie Reher, and beloved husband of our board president, Barbara Blas.
Born in Astoria, Queens, Howie moved to Kingston in 1959, when he was in the 3rd grade. His father was a floor and wall cover entrepreneur who built himself up from a roll of linoleum to own a successful business in midtown Kingston. Howie worked in his father’s store as a boy, joined the airforce in 1968, and went on to serve in the Vietnam War. In the early 70s, Howie began dating Barbara Cohen, another member of Kingston’s Jewish singles club, and a longtime family friend of Hymie Reher. Barbara Cohen Blas would become Howie’s wife for 48 years.
Howie and Hymie became close because they both attended Kingston’s Orthodox Agudas Achim synagogue. As Howie put it, he and Hymie, they just “clicked.” As Hymie aged, he would ask Howie to come to his home in the Rondout to help change a light bulb, or set up the TV. When Hymie needed something on the financial side of things, Howie would get Barb involved to help. The Blases became so close to the Rehers that when, in 2004, Geoff Miller asked Barbara about “getting Hymie’s place” to preserve it as a museum and cultural center, Barbara said she could help. The rest, as we know, is history.
Howie continued to be a fixture of the Reher Center community until his last days – always with a smile, always with a hug and a pair of helping hands. In recent years, Howie set up computers, screens, and projectors for the Reher office and events. Just this past year, he schlepped more boxes and sold more raffle tickets than anyone can know. He will be sorely missed by so many in our community.