Shelter Island lost an Island legend, icon and unique character when Robert Reiter passed away at home on Sunday, July 16, 2017. He was 84.
Born in Greenport on November 19, 1932 to Theodore and Mary (Norkelun) Reiter, he was one of six children. In his younger years, Bob was an avid roller skater at the Greenport rink. He could “cut a rug” both on the dance floor and on skates, his family recalled. He was, they said, a real old-fashioned ladies man.
Working as an usher at the movie theater in Greenport, Bob approached Kolina Mal Nevel, who was there with friends from Shelter Island, and told her “someday I’m going to marry you,” she recalled, adding “I told him, ‘You gotta be kidding me!’”
The couple were married in 1960 and had three sons: R. Michael, Earl and Jeffrey.
A great outdoorsman, Bob enjoyed deer hunting locally and in upstate New York. He had always been involved in fishing activities, clamming, scalloping and gillnetting. He spent 10 years on sea scallop boats and as a local bay scalloper was profiled by The Newsday Magazine on January 2, 1983 in a long article and photo essay entitled “The Hard, Sweet Life of a Scalloper.”
The family moved to Shelter Island in 1962 as caretakers of the Garr estate. A year later, Bob became a full-time bayman.
He served as a volunteer fireman for about 20 years and had his share of escapades, his family recalled, like the time he had to vent the roof of the manor house in Mashomack.
Bob and Kolina purchased what is now Bob’s Fish Market and Restaurant in 1969. The market began as a scallop shucking shop and evolved over time, starting with an all-you-can eat fish fry and continuing to grow due to Island demand.
For 33 years, Bob was involved in the annual fundraiser at Mashomack where he cooked lobsters in ‘Big Bertha,’ sometimes wearing outlandish getups. Last summer he participated with his buddy Warren Lucas.
Missing him greatly are his wife, Kolina; his sons, R. Michael, Earl and Jeffrey, and their families; grandchildren Anthony, Kayla and Amelia; and great-grandchildren Gloria, Margaret, Anthony and Lucas; along with hundreds of his friends, customers and acquaintances.
The Reiter family invites all to join in a day of remembrance on Saturday, September 9 beginning at noon at the restaurant.