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Shereen, Sami, Reuven Rahamim

, Rahamim family

Colleagues, families mourn five lives cut short

  • Article by: KELLY SMITH, MAYA RAO and DAVID CHANEN
  • Star Tribune
  • September 28, 2012 - 11:50 PM

Accent Signage was in the heart of a Minneapolis route that UPS driver Keith Basinski had handled for most of his 29-year career.

Picking up packages at the company's loading dock Thursday afternoon, Basinski just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, Police Chief Tim Dolan said Friday.

Basinski, a father of three from Spring Lake Park, was well known to the people who work and live in the neighborhood, Dolan said.

Basinski had just turned 50, and "he was the youngest 50-year-old I've ever known," said his son Brent, 25. "He had no plans of retiring anytime soon."

He spoke for only a few minutes on the front steps of his father's house because he was waiting for his younger brother, Colton, to arrive. Keith Basinski's daughter, Alissa, 23, was to arrive later from San Diego.

Brent said his dad was a huge Green Bay Packers fan. He moved to Minneapolis to study at North Central Bible College and was a religious man, friends and relatives said.

Many people tweeted messages of sympathy over his death. One said: "My longtime UPS guy is dead in Minneapolis shooting. Keith Basinski was always friendly, pro and bearing gifts."

Reuven Rahamim: A person of 'generosity and mercy'

At 7 p.m. Thursday, Reuven Rahamim was supposed to meet with other leaders of the Beth El Synagogue, where he has worshiped and been a board member for a number of years. Instead, the St. Louis Park synagogue spent the evening and all of Friday mourning Rahamim, 61, described by friends as a charitable, compassionate family man who founded and owned Accent.

"They're finding strength in each other," said Rabbi Alexander Davis, who spoke to the Rahamim family on Friday. "They're trying to understand how this could happen."

Rahamim's wife, children and grandchildren were "everything to him," Davis added.

Rahamim's 17-year-old son, a St. Louis Park High School senior, was interning at his father's business and helped give Mark Andrew a tour of the company nearly 24 hours before the shooting.

"He was very deeply committed to sustainable business practices as a way to grow a business and as a way to contribute to the community," said Andrew, president of GreenMark, a Minneapolis environmental marketing company who was about to contract to work with Rahamim and his company.

Rahamim told Andrew on Wednesday that his company had just hired five people and was growing. "He was having a good year," Andrew said.

Larry Pepper, a longtime friend and fellow member of Beth El, and Davis called Rahamim a compassionate business leader and family man who took pride in hiring friends and employees from diverse backgrounds.

In Hebrew, Rahamim's last name means merciful or compassionate.

"And that is truly who he was -- a person of great kindness, generosity and mercy," Davis said. "And it's something that he instilled in everyone who he had contact with and that will always stay with us."

Family and friends will gather for his funeral at 11 a.m. Sunday at Beth El Synagogue, 5224 W. 26th, St. Louis Park. Burial will take place in Israel.

Jacob Beneke: Artist, sculptor, husband, dad

Jacob Beneke was passionate about art and design. He lived in Maple Grove with his wife and young son and served as digital imaging supervisor at Accent. Earlier he had worked as a graphic artist for a small Wisconsin newspaper and studied and made sculptures in Europe. On his website, he said he studied traditional methods of bronze sculpture and jewelry-making in Italy.

"Painting and sculpture are my emotional exits of reality," Beneke, 34, wrote in an artistic statement. "It is my source of meditation. I allow my creations to lead me on a journey to nirvana. The result is a spontaneous collaboration of unique colorful abstract forms."

He especially enjoyed making sculptures out of recycled materials. Many of them were whimsical creations for lawns and gardens that served as sprinklers, scarecrows, and sometimes just for decoration.

Beneke, whose family declined to talk to the media, was active at the Maple Grove Arts Center, where he served on the board and headed a program to give artists more exposure by having local businesses display their work. He also had a sculpture of his own, called the White Rabbit, on display there.

"He was a very kind and wonderful artist, very creative," said Lorrie Link, executive director of the center. "His sculptures were fabulous. His paintings were very whimsical, too. And his art just made us all laugh. It was very fun."

She said Beneke was friendly and always volunteered to help out.

"He was very passionate about his art," said Link.

She added: "Jacob will be missed greatly. ... It was just very good that he participated in this community."

Rami Cooks: 'We will miss him beyond words'

Cooks, 62, lived in Minnetonka. Late Friday, his family released this statement: "Rami was the epitome of a family man who enjoyed nothing more than spending his free time with loved ones. Rami was larger than life. We will miss him beyond words."

"Rami had a big heart, cared about everyone and tried to make everyone feel like a team," said Meaghan Norlander, former comptroller at Accent Signage, who left the company in 2008, and now lives in Cary, N.C.

She described Cooks as Rahamim's right-hand man who helped supervise day-to-day operations at the company.

A funeral notice said he is survived by his life partner, Pam Wexler, and four children. His funeral is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday at Bet Shalom Congregation, 13613 Orchard Road, Minnetonka.

Ronald Edberg: He loved the outdoors, humor

Ronald Edberg was an avid outdoorsman who loved to fish and hunt. "He was just a very quiet person, but had a big sense of humor," said his daughter, Jessica Edberg of Ely. Edberg, 58, of Brooklyn Center, had worked at Accent for more than 10 years in design production.

Staff writers Randy Furst and Nicole Norfleet contributed to this report. kelly.smith@startribune.com • 612-673-4141 maya.rao@startribune.com • 612-673-4210 david.chanen@startribune.com • 612-673-4465

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