Hundreds of Mourners Gather to Remember Henry Rehder, Sr. - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Hundreds of Mourners Gather to Remember Henry Rehder, Sr.


More than five hundred mourners packed St. Paul's Lutheran Church to pay tribute to one of Wilmington's most-loved residents.

Henry Rehder was remembered not only as a founder of the city's favorite spring celebration, but also as a family man and community leader.

"He was a Sunday school teacher, served on the council and was a true inspiration for anybody who knew him," said Nicky Grubbs, who grew up with Mr. Rehder. "He was a good Christian man -- a good Christian person who could leave a legacy for people to follow."

With his flowers and with his charm, Henry Rehder made this city a beautiful place. The founder of the Azalea Festival died on Monday at the age of ninety-two.

At the service, it was obvious how many lives he touched, as mourners arrived an hour early to get a seat. Speakers remembered the third-generation florist, former Merchant Marine and lover of the Azalea Festival.

Even after the service ended, the flow of wonderful memories continued.

Haddon Allen and his father, Walser, lived next door to Mr. Rehder for more than twenty-five years.

"I was his paper boy for five years and he always got up early in the morning and watched the sunrise," Haddon Allen said. "I brought his paper before I brought any other customer's, and he always greeted me with a smile--just the nicest man I've ever known."

Hamilton Hicks, former Mayor of Wilmington, said Rehder was a true southern gentleman.

"Yesterday was rainy and cold--the clouds were crying. Tears were being shed for Henry," Hicks said."Today, it's bright and sunshine-y, and the flowers are ready to bloom and we're here to celebrate his life."

Friends who gathered here say Mr. Rehder will be missed every day, and he will be remembered especially each spring when the azaleas are in bloom.

Reported by Sara Straeten,

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