When news broke this week that character actor James Rebhorn had died, it was a strange sort of shock. Rebhorn, who appeared in over 100 films, was a more familiar face than many stars, but I never even knew his name before he died, let alone anything about his personal life. He disappeared so completely into his roles that it never occurred to me to wonder about him as a person.
He appears to have been an extraordinary one. Rebhorn, who passed away from melanoma on Friday, wrote his own obituary, and instead of using it to list his accomplishments (which were many – 125 films, remember), he chose to praise and comfort his family and friends.
He is survived by his sister, Janice Barbara Galbraith, of Myrtle Beach, SC. She was his friend, his confidant, and, more often than either of them would like to admit, his bridge over troubled waters. He is also survived by his wife, Rebecca Fulton Linn, and his two daughters, Emma Rebecca Rebhorn and Hannah Linn Rebhorn. They anchored his life and gave him the freedom to live it. Without them, always at the center of his being, his life would have been little more than a vapor. Rebecca loved him with all his flaws, and in her the concept of ceaseless love could find no better example.
Rebhorn also offered some advice to his two daughters.
His children made him immensely proud. Their dedication to improving our species and making the world a better place gave him hope for the future. They deal with grief differently, and they should each manage it as they see fit. He hopes, however, that they will grieve his passing only as long as necessary. They have much good work to do, and they should get busy doing it. Time is flying by.
The full obituary appears here, on the website for Rebhorn’s church, St. Paul Lutheran Church in Jersey City. Don’t read it if you’ve already put on your mascara.