Sidney Rebers, home builder, nature lover

  • Article by: PAMELA MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 24, 2010 - 9:02 PM

His St. Louis Park construction company flourished on word-of-mouth praise for the standard of quality he set.

Sidney Rebers didn't want his name connected with any construction work that was less than excellent.

The longtime president of Rebers Construction Co. of St. Louis Park, who oversaw the building of hundreds of high-end homes in the Twin Cities, would walk through building sites with a roll of masking tape, said his daughter, Kristen Rice of Eden Prairie. If he saw something less than perfect, he'd stick a piece of tape on the wall to indicate that the area needed to be redone.

Rebers, 83, died Thursday at his Edina home after suffering from a variety of medical problems, most recently a heart attack, his daughter said.

He was born in Minneapolis and graduated from Roosevelt High School. Working as a plasterer to earn his way through the University of Minnesota, he started out majoring in wildlife management but soon switched to business.

In 1951, he married Barbara Sager, whom he'd courted after "seeing her on a streetcar and thinking she was cute," Rice said. After college, he worked for a building-materials maker for four years. "He came home one day and told my mother that another employee was doing something dishonest and his boss wouldn't back him up when he pointed it out," she said. "So he quit." After working briefly for another company, he decided to start his own business.

Rebers Construction quickly became known for high-quality, custom-built upper-bracket homes, and flourished for 35 years with nothing more than word-of-mouth recommendations for advertising, she said.

Erwin Nistler met Rebers in 1958 when he was loaned to Rebers' firm by another company. "Sid stressed, 'Do the work better, not quicker or cheaper,' which is not something you always hear," said Nistler, of rural Maple Plain. "When the other guy called me back, I didn't go." For the next 35 years, he served as Rebers' foreman.

Though Rebers demanded quality, he also "treated people real well," Nistler said. "He was what you'd call a real friendly bss."

Rebers, who as a child spent summers working on a family farm in southwestern Minnesota, was also passionate about the outdoors. In 1971, he bought a soybean and sunflower farm near Middle River, Minn., renting the fields out to nearby farmers, renovating the old farmhouse for use during pheasant, goose and deer hunting trips, planting thousands of spruce seedlings and dynamiting holes to form ponds that attracted waterfowl, moose and other wildlife.

His son Randy, of Minnetonka, said his father "was very big on trees, noting how each kind fit into the life of the woods." In his work, too, "he was very careful with the old oaks and other trees around the homes he was building, making sure they were protected and preserved," Randy said.

Rice said Rebers was a patient and loving father and grandfather. "When I was in grade school, he bought me a horse, and even though he had severe asthma, he came to the State Fair to see me ride it until finally he just couldn't breathe and had to go," she said.

The word that best described his father's approach to his family, business and the natural world was "caring," Randy said.

In addition to Kristen and Randy, he is survived by his wife of 59 years, Barbara; another son, Brad, of Denver; another daughter, Laurie, of Edina; a brother, Richard, of Minneapolis, and four grandchildren.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Normandale Lutheran Church, 6100 Normandale Road, Edina, with visitation one hour beforehand.

Pamela Miller • 612-673-4290

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