Stonington - Fellow town officials and friends fondly remembered longtime Board of Finance member and local educator Andy Rines Sunday as someone who brought his gregarious personality, knowledge and love of the town to whatever he did.
"He was just a great person. He loved this town and always gave back to it," said First Selectman Ed Haberek. "This is definitely a great loss for us."
Rines, 79, died on Wednesday. In recent months he has been suffering from kidney failure and was undergoing dialysis. But he continued to attend finance board meetings and was in attendance at the board's last meeting two weeks ago.
Calling hours will be held today from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Gaffney-Dolan Funeral Home in Westerly and the funeral will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Mary Church in the borough.
Rines, was a former assistant superintendent of schools here as well as a teacher and coach. He leaves his wife, Darla, four children and seven grandchildren.
Retired police chief David Erskine had Rines as a freshman basketball coach in 1958-59. In more recent years, the two men could be found together in the bleachers at most Stonington High school basketball games along with a group of friends. Rines, a native of Maine, also enjoyed URI and UConn basketball games as well as the Red Sox.
"He always cared about the kids," said Erskine, adding that for many years Rines headed up a 5th- and 6th-grade basketball league that had teams from various schools in town.
"He always said what he thought. He didn't sugarcoat anything. He told it the way it was," Erskine said.
Rines always enjoyed a good, thoughtful conversation and he and his fellow board of finance members would often linger in the meeting room 20 minutes or after they adjourned to talk about all sorts of topics. The jokes and banter between he and his fellow board members, often helped ease tensions during spring budget meetings.
And before he got sick, Rines could be found many mornings at the Westerly branch of the Ocean Community YMCA where his voice could be heard in the pool and locker room.
"He definitely liked to chat and talk to people," Erskine said.
Haberek, who said the town will fly the flag at Town Hall at half staff through Tuesday and then present it to Rines' family, said Rines was always able to use his experience in education to help the finance board when it was discussing school issues.
"This is a great loss for the town," Haberek said.
Fellow finance board member, Dudley Wheeler, who also had Rines as a teacher, said that if he and Rines disagreed on an issue, they simply agreed to disagreed and moved on.
"He was always fair and he was always upfront," Wheeler said. "Just an excellent guy to work with. I'm really going to miss him in a lot of different ways."
The Board of Finance will now have to appoint someone to fill the remaining 15 months of Rines' term.
"We're going to have a hard time replacing the kind of character he had," Wheeler said. "Andy had a lot of knowledge, a lot of insight and he was very dedicated. And I never heard anyone say a bad word about him."