Shooting victims remembered, mournedPublished 4:52pm Saturday, September 29, 2012
ST. PAUL — A prideful entrepreneur, known at City Hall and recognized by federal leaders for his ingenuity and business spirit. A package deliveryman known for his devotion to his children and the Green Bay Packers. The promising artist with a young family. A quiet outdoorsman who had a big sense of humor.
They were among five victims fatally shot by a fired employee at a Minneapolis sign-making business; the gunman also killed himself. Here are some of the victims’ stories:
After starting his sign-making business in his basement, Reuven Rahamim spent the next three decades building it into a company praised by local and federal officials. But he was equally devoted to his large family, and especially loved riding bikes with his grandson.
Rahamim grew up on a farm in Israel and served in the Israeli army before coming to the U.S. after the 1973 Arab-Israel War, said his son-in-law, Chad Blumenfield.
The 61-year-old grandfather was devoted to his work and had a passion for developing greener products. But he also loved to cook, entertain friends and spend time with his family, Blumenfield wrote in an email, calling his father-in-law “dedicated, loyal and dearly loved.”
Rahamim founded Accent Signage Systems Inc. in the basement of his Minneapolis home in the early 1980s, according to local business publication Finance & Commerce. With a patent for a method of making Braille signs for the blind, the company specializes in signs that meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
Noting that the company’s signs hang in the White House and are exported to China, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said Rahamim lived the American dream.
“He is an example of somebody who climbed the ladder of success and didn’t pull it up, but tried every way possible to get other people up on that rung, too,” Rybak said.
UPS deliveryman Keith Basinski was a familiar face on the route that took him to a sign company in a leafy northern Minneapolis neighborhood. Police say he was loading his truck when he was shot.
“He just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan said.
The 50-year-old father of two sons and a daughter lived in the northern Twin Cities suburb of Spring Lake Park. His mother, Cleo Basinski, said he moved to Minnesota to attend Northwestern Bible College, where he graduated. She described him as a gentle spirit and dedicated father.
His son said his father was committed to his job and to the Green Bay Packers. Although his dad recently celebrated a milestone birthday, he “was the youngest 50-year-old I’ve ever known,” his son said.
“He had no plans of retiring anytime soon,” Brent Basinski said.
Jill Schubert, president of the UPS Northern Plains District, said Basinski had been with the company 29 years, adding: “We are going to miss him very much.”
Jacob Beneke was an avid sculpture artist and painter, known to friends as “a very cool guy” whose art incorporated recycled material and often made people laugh.
The 34-year-old worked as the digital imaging manager at Accent Signage Systems, according to his Facebook page. He listed his hometown as New Albin, Iowa, and said he studied at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wis. He had a wife and young son.
Lorrie Link, who heads the Maple Grove Arts Center, said Beneke’s sculptures and paintings stood out, and that he also worked to promote artists in the northwestern Minneapolis suburb.
“He was just a very cool guy,” Link said. “He was very creative and expressive. His sculptures and paintings and drawings made us laugh.”
Link said Beneke incorporated farm equipment and other used parts into his sculptures, making one called “White Rabbit” out of a chain saw motor.
On a personal website, Beneke talked about his artistic background, saying he went to school to be a graphic designer. He said he later studied traditional bronze sculpture and jewelry in Italy, where he made sculptures out of material left over from the renovation of a 12th-century Tuscan home.
“All my life I have enjoyed building things and the problem solving involved,” he said.
Ronald Edberg was a quiet outdoorsman with a big sense of humor.
The 58-year-old father had worked for more than a decade in design production at Accent Signage Systems. But in his free time, his daughter said, he loved fishing and hunting.
Jessica Edberg told the Star Tribune that along with her and her brother, her father had a large family. She called her dad an avid outdoorsman.
“He was just a very quiet person, but had a big sense of humor,” she said.
She said her family was still in shock about his sudden death.
Rami Cooks, 62, was a key figure at Accent Signage, described by former comptroller Meaghan Norlander as owner Reuven Rahimim’s right-hand man on day-to-day operations.
“Rami had a big heart, cared about everyone and tried to make everyone feel like a team,” Norlander told the Star Tribune.
In a statement, Cooks’ family called the Minnetonka man “larger than life.”
“Rami was the epitome of a family man who enjoyed nothing more than spending his free time with loved ones,” the statement said. He is survived by his wife and four children.