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Shortly after 10 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, according to neighbors, a man on Hawley Boulevard in Normal Heights called his girlfriend on the phone and told her, “I set myself on fire; call the fire department.” When firefighters arrived, they found a small house in the rear of the main residence locked and engulfed in flames on the inside. They put the blaze out quickly and discovered the remains of Bob Reisinger, a man in his 50s, inside in the laundry room.

Reisinger’s grandmother, who was in her 90s and lived in the front house, died a year ago. His brother Michael still lives there.

Maurice Luque, a spokesman for the fire department, said the death was “an apparent suicide,” although an investigation has not been completed. “No foul play is suspected,” he said.

Reisinger, who sported a long gray beard, was often seen riding his bicycle in the community. Reputedly a heavy drinker, he was a regular at Rosie O’Grady’s bar on Adams Avenue, where he helped open in the mornings by cleaning up from the night before.

Bridget Allen, a bartender off and on for nine years at Rosie’s, said Reisinger, whose nickname was “Heartbreak Bob,” would “do anything to help anybody. He and I used to talk in the mornings before we opened. He’d tell me about his early life when he chased women all the time and lived a pretty wild life. He often ran down the street to pick up food for me. When I offered him some, he’d say, ‘You know I can’t eat that.’ He meant having few teeth. He’d say, ‘I know it was my fault.’”

Patrons in Rosie’s said they don’t believe Reisinger could have killed himself because he seemed to always be in a good mood. A man named Erick said Reisinger had once taken his keys away from him “when I was wasted.” Others talked about how Reisinger greeted people at the front door, where he often stood outside smoking.

Ed Sandford recalled the time he and his wife held a party in their backyard and Reisinger volunteered to watch the kids. “He just sat on the edge of the canyon,” said Sandford, “and made sure none of the kids went down."

A celebration of Reisinger’s life is scheduled for Wednesday, April 24, at Rosie O’Grady’s. The bar has raised $900 from his friends to help pay for funeral expenses.

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viewer April 19, 2013 @ 6:40 p.m.

Those like Reisinger don't care what others 'raise' and/or what want to do for HIM. Ones like Reisinger only care for what he does to/for others. As what he does to others, is what make Reisinger happy.

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Christopher Corbett-Fiacco April 22, 2013 @ 9:05 a.m.

cold and unnecessarily mean-spirited. the man clearly never harmed anyone we're aware of, except himself, and that clearly due to a physiological condition known as alcoholism which he apparently never controlled, which is sad because as an alcoholic/addict with 14 yrs clean and sober, i honestly believe that 99.75% of all alcoholics/addicts can get sober and remain sober. meanwhile, alcoholism is connected to anxiety disorders and to a lesser extent, depression. those with anxiety disorders and depression often begin to use and abuse alcohol and other drugs in order to calm the anxiety/panic and lift the mood (temporarily).

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Barefoot April 21, 2013 @ 5:42 p.m.

One thing many may not know about Bob is that he was born and raised here. He learned to ride his bike on Hawley, went to the local schools, dated the local girls. He was going to turn 55 this year, and except for a stint in the military, spent his entire life in the little house on Hawley with Grandma Irene (who passed away last year). He was happy here, know everybody who lived in the neighborhood (even the one's who didn't know him) and he had no desire to live anywhere else than his studio in the back of Irene's.

He was a man of simple means and wants. I've seen him as giddy and excited over finding a cast-off bicycle he could fix and use, as another man would be over a brand new BMW. Few people had as strong a love of animals as Bob, and critters could sense it. I've encountered deer, coyotes, raccons, possums and skunks (many skunks) walking with Bob late at night as he would announce "It's OK, It's just me" and walk on without causing the animals to flee. Even mean dogs would start wagging their tails around Bob and flop over for a belly rub.

I never heard Bob express a desire for weath or fame or for more than what life sent him. It seems all he wanted was to be able to stay in his little corner of the universe north of Adams and kinda keep an eye on things for folks, just as Irene had done.

Makes me wonder why this happened.

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Christopher Corbett-Fiacco April 22, 2013 @ 9:17 a.m.

sadly, it happened because he was a 55 year-old single man looking at old age (i know the feeling) who was also an alcoholic who didn't, maybe couldn't, get sober and maintain it, who lived in a studio cottage for years behind his grandmother, who died last year, in the same neighborhood (same house, even?) he grew up in 50 yrs ago etc and he doubtless saw nothing changing in a life he didn't really want to live anymore. he may have also been drunk at the time, which clearly obscures more rational thought. sad because there is help and there are ways of crawling out of life's holes even if you have to scratch and claw and crawl your way out. i know because the last time i was suicidally depressed about 8 yrs ago was the worst in my lifetime and i told the psychiatric staff at the gifford clinic that i was in a hole so deep that there was one pinpoint of light and didn't know if i had the mental/emotional/physical energy to scratch and claw and crawl my way out, and might commit suicide, and that if i did, they shouldn't feel that it was their fault or anyone else's, but my decision that i couldn't endure it any longer. i did endure and get out of that hole and am now convinced that it is always possible to do so, eventually. but one needs the help and the ability to give onesself the time to do it. sadly, this man didn't know that, and killed himself, and his death and others like his are a big part of the reason why i am open and honest about my own experiences with sexual abuse, alcoholism/addiction, anxiety/panic and depression. it can all be lived with and there is no need to die before the body itself finally gives up the ghost.

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Barefoot April 22, 2013 @ 2:23 p.m.

In case you haven't noticed, this is an article about Bob Reisinger, not Chris Corbett. It is apparent from your comments that you didn't know Bob and have no clue as to his situation, unlike the hundreds of folks in our neighborhood who have known and, gasp, even cared about Bob for decades.

Instead of assuming that Bob "doubtless saw nothing changing in a life he didn't really want to live anymore.", perhaps you could have taken the time to speak with those who knew him, like the author of this article did, then you would had found that Bob was living exactly where and how he wanted. If you want the Reader to publish the story of your escape from alcoholism, then by all means, write it up and send it to them for publication, rather than hijacking the discussion thread about someone you have never met.

A surprising number of Normal Heights residents knew Irene and Bob (and Irene's baking), after all they were some of the longest, if not THE longest, term residents of this neighborhood and we are all diminished by losing them. At this point it is unknown if Bob's death was a suicide or an accident of a heavy smoker, an investigation is still in progress.

Good luck with your continuing recovery and I look forward to reading about your struggles in a more appropriate venue.

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Vanda_PR April 22, 2013 @ 6:51 p.m.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Christopher Corbett-Fiacco enough about yourself. You definitely did not know Bob,.I would like to think of Bob in a better light.

Bob was a good hearted soul. If you needed a friend to listen, he would be right there. He also, would help you in whatever else you needed help with. I recently needed him as a witness in an establishment on Adams Ave. He very willingly stayed with us until the incident was over. Bob loved dogs very much. He lost his own dog Abbie about 14 months ago. Whenever he saw my dog, I could tell my dog always made him feel much better.

Yes, his grandmother Irene died in July at the age of 90 plus. Who was the one to take care of her in her final weeks? It was Bob. I know it's not easy to have to deal with a relative's health failing, and having to care for them 24 7. Bob did it as best as anyone could.I used to tease Bob saying, he was going to live as long as granny. Because he had her genes.

Bob and Irene have lived in this neighborhood since the 50's. They both could tell you about the history of the area, and all the people who have come and gone. Finally, I still believe Bob had granny's genes. Both Bob and Irene were well known and liked in the neighborhood.

Bob, you and granny are in a better place.

RIP

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bontask April 27, 2013 @ 9:54 a.m.

It's always sad to hear someone has made a decision to take their own life. My condolences to those left behind. Bob sounds like someone I would have liked to know. The way wild animals accepted him says a lot.

Congrats to you Chris. Overcoming an addiction is quite an accomplishment. Be sure you eat healthy food/eliminate junk. I haven't battled with alcohol or drugs but I have been amazed at how cravings and some bad habits have diminished since I've made the concerted effort to eat fresh food and avoid grains and manufactured food. If you haven't made this effort, give it a shot. I'm sending good thoughts your way!

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