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Lewis James Rebhun
AMONG the men who were instrumental in advancing
business interests in Cincinnati during the generation that has just passed and after a useful and honorable
career experienced a transition to other planes of action beyond Shakespeare's "outmost banks and shoals of time," was the late Lewis James Rebhun. Time and prolific enterprise have wrought wonderful changes in the famous Queen City since he took up his residence there, through which period he kept well abreast of the times, and his activities benefited alike himself and the general public, his well directed efforts gaining for him a position of desirable prominence in commercial circles. Mr. Rebhun's chief characteristics seemed to be keenness of perception, a tireless energy, honesty of purpose and motive, and every-day common sense. He was very successful in business, highly respected in social life and as a citizen and neighbor discharged his duties in a manner becoming a liberal minded, intelligent resident of the great Buckeye commonwealth where the latter portion of his praiseworthy life was spent and where the essential qualities of manhood have ever been duly recognized and prized at their true value. To write in detail a full account of his useful, industrious, and honorable life would require a much more elaborate article than the nature of the work in hand admits or requires. However, sufficient will be said to form a correct conception of the man and his career, a career affording many valuable lessons to the young of the rising generation who may, perchance, stand undecided at the parting of the ways.
Mr. Rebhun was born in Rochester, New York, November 23, 1866. He was the eldest of nine children born to Daniel Christian Rebhun and Elizabeth (Jones) Rebhun, both living, the former a native of Pennsylvania, and the latter of Rochester, New York. The father, formerly a successful business man, is now living retired in the city of Cincinnati. The surviving children of this large family are Charles A. Rebhun, Miss Gertrude Rebhun, and Mrs. William Oldewage, all of Cincinnati, Ohio; Mrs. Charles E. Briggs, of Detroit, Michigan, and Mrs. Joseph Heineman, of Butler, Pennsylvania.
Lewis J. Rebhun enjoyed excellent educational advantages and training for a business life when a boy, at which period he showed marked qualities of intellect, being an apt and diligent student and an alert and energetic lad when placed in the school of actual industry. After attending the public schools of Albany, New York, he spent two years in high school there and then was graduated from a business college in that city. His father was engaged in the manufacture of lasts at Albany for a number of years, the concern being known as The Rebhun Last Company, the plant having been established in 1828, nearly a century ago. Thus for a long lapse of years it has been widely and favorabIy known, being among the largest concerns catering to the trade. After young Rebhun finished his educational work he entered his father's factory at Albany, and, being wide-awake, ambitious, and
of good habits, he quickly mastered the various phases of the business. He believed in thoroughness and in order to master
every detail, started at the bench; he filled position after position until in due course of time he became treasurer, general manager, and president of The Rebhun Last Company, discharging the duties of these responsible posts in an able and praiseworthy manner until his death. His careful management, wise counsel, and keen industrial acumen resulted in a constantly growing volume of business from year to year. He inaugurated a superb system in every department and instituted the most modern and scientific machinery and methods. He was popular among his scores of employees whom he managed in such a manner as to secure the best results and keep satisfied. He was ever solicitous of their personal welfare and encouraged and sympathized with them. In fact, this admirable trait of altruism was manifested throughout his life and many are the successful young men whom he helped get a start. He believed in helping his brother workers along life's highway if they needed his assistance. Such traits won him scores of friends and admirers.
About the year 1898, The Rebhun Last Company established a branch house in Cincinnati, the subject of this memoir taking charge of the same. The venture was so successful that the elder Rebhun eventually was persuaded by his son to move the entire plant to Cincinnati, which was accordingly done. That the son did not err in his sound judgment and wise foresight has been proven by the volume of business that has been done during the past eighteen years by this concern in the Queen City. In fact, so rapid was the increase that it became necessary, in 1911, to erect one of the most extensive, finest, and best equipped last factories in the United States. It was at this time that the father of the subject of this sketch retired from the business, leaving the same solely in charge of his son, Lewis J.
Mr. Rebhun, of this review, also had other business interests of importance. He was vice-president of the Evanston Bank and he served two terms as president of the American Last Association. He was a member of the Queen City Club, the Business Men's Club, the Cincinnati Country Club, also the Country Club of Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky, and the Hamilton County Golf Club. He was a thirty-second degree Mason, a member of the Scottish Rite, Knights Templars, and Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. While living in Albany in his younger days he was a member of Company A, New York National Guard. He had been a member of the Rotary Club in Cincinnati but one year, when, in 1916, his name was prominently mentioned for the presidency of the same, in fact, he was defeated by only a very small margin. This is one of the most progressive and most important organizations in that city; but notwithstanding his brief membership, his progressive methods and his rare qualities as a leader of men were recognized.
He was a man of high ideals and a kind, helpful, sympathetic nature. He gave large sums to charity and worthy movements for the betterment of his fellows in every way. He had decided talent in a literary way and wrote some beautiful verses. He was widely read and well informed on a great diversity of themes. He was very fond of home and family, his domestic life being ideal.
On June 6, 1894, Lewis J. Rebhun was united in marriage to Miss Matilda Effler, of Albany, New York, where she spent her earlier years and was educated. She is a daughter of Charles C. and Alida (Newkirk) Effler, one of the highly esteemed old families of Albany. The mother is now deceased, but the father is living retired in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mrs. Rebhun is a lady of refinement and has always been popular with the circles in which she moves. The union of Mr. and Mrs. Rebhun was blessed by the birth of the following children: Llewellyna Rebhun is a Junior at Smith College, North Hampton, Massachusetts, at this writing, 1916; Ruth Rebhun was recently graduated from Dana Hall Preparatory School at Wellesley; Massachusetts, and Daniel Carl Rebhun is attending Franklin Preparatory School at Cincinnati, Ohio.
The passing away of Lewis J. Rebhun, suddenly and with but little warning, while still in the prime of life and in the zenith of his physical and mental powers, was deeply regretted by the people of his home city and wherever he was known. He had just returned from a trip East when he was fatally stricken by the hand of death, which claimed him on his birthday, November 23, 1916, at the age of fifty years. But he left behind him a record of which his family, friends, and descendants may well be proud —that of an eminently successful, useful, honest, and commendable career.
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