Gerald S. Rehm
Gerald S. Rehm
  • March 10, 1927 - March 10, 2017
  • Clearwater, Florida

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Memorial Tribute – Gerald S. “Jerry” Rehm, 90, Clearwater, FL

Jerry was born March 10th, 1927 in West Palm Beach, FL. Quite ironically, he went home to the Lord on his 90th birthday, March 10, 2017, while surrounded by family. What a birthday present, to be able to celebrate it both on earth and in heaven!

He is survived by his 3 children, Greg (Kathleen), Pam and Scott (Mary), 5 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. He is also survived by his wife of 22 years (Edna), her son, grandson and great granddaughter.

Jerry grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida to parents Fred and Rose Rehm. His aptitude for leadership was validated early in his life as demonstrated by his management of a team of kids in running a successful paper route. Further proven by his achievement of Eagle Scout, the highest honor designation within the Boy Scouts of America. After high school, Jerry moved to Great Neck Long Island, New York to attend the United States Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point), where he became a midshipman and played trumpet in the academy band. He graduated in 1948. After serving time at sea, Jerry went to work for Sperry Rand in New York and in 1958 was transferred to their Oldsmar, Florida division. Jerry, his wife Fran of 37 years, son Greg and daughter Pam, moved to Belleair, FL until their home was built in Dunedin and youngest son, Scott was born in 1959.

Jerry started his political career in Dunedin, first as a member of the Dunedin Library and Planning and Zoning boards in 1961 & 62, a member of the City Commission (1963 – 65) and ultimately serving 3 terms as one of Dunedin’s youngest elected Mayors, at the age of 38 (1965-71). While Mayor, his greatest single contribution to the city and beyond, was the acquisition and development of Caladesi Island as a state park. His environmentalist vision, as well as the countless hours spent negotiating in behalf of the state, was successful in convincing 23 separate land owners to sell their land to the state for half its appraised value. Now 51 years later, Caladesi Island has been voted #1 beach in America and for generations to come, park visitors continue to enjoy what he worked so hard to preserve.

Following his retirement from local politics, Jerry obtained his Real Estate license, served as a director of the Jack Eckerd Foundation, President of Experience Unlimited and General Manager of Screens Unlimited. His passion remained in politics however, and at the behest of his boss, Jack Eckerd, Jerry ran for and won a seat in the Florida Senate (1981-84) and the Florida House of Representatives (1986-90). While in state office, his love for Dunedin remained strong, as evidenced by his ability to obtain funding for the widening of State Road 580 and the acquisition of land where the Dunedin Community Center now resides.

In 1984, Jerry purchased an almost bankrupt candy factory, now known as the Florida Candy Factory. For 33 years, he and his son, Scott have manufactured Angel Mints® and boardwalk style Salt Water Taffy for companies such as, Walt Disney (World and Land), Universal Studios, Bush Gardens, as well as major convenience stores, hospital gift shops, and yes, even a president (George W. Bush) for 8 years.

Jerry and Fran divorced in 1985 and Jerry remarried in 1995 to Edna Willhoite of Largo. Jerry & Edna enjoyed 22 wonderful years of marriage together while residing in Clearwater.

Jerry’s most recent accomplishment has been working for one of his true loves, the United States Merchant Marine Academy, his alma mater. Over the last 5 years, he has represented Kings Point’s interest in Washington, DC. He worked diligently with Congress and the late Congressman Bill Young in the successful appropriation of millions of dollars to help preserve this wonderful institution. His greatest wish was to still be lobbying in behalf of his academy at the age of 90. Well dad, your wish was granted. For on March 10, 2017, you celebrated 90 years, and yes, while still working for the academy. Words can’t adequately express our appreciation for the out pouring of love and support from Jerry’s friends at the academy. You have all become so much more than colleagues, you are his true friends!