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Tragedy in Minneapolis

Reflecting on last week’s horrible shooting at Accent Signage

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Occasionally, shocking events occur that bring our lives, and our worldview, back into perspective. With the hyper-frenetic pace of today’s world, it’s so easy to become embroiled in life’s incessant stream of details – project deadlines at work, getting kids to practices and games, managing your home, etc. – and forget that it’s the people in our lives, not the events or material possessions, that enrich them.

Last Thursday, the type of event that jolts us back to cherishing The Things that Really Matter happened. Late that afternoon, employees at Minneapolis-based Accent Signage Systems were completing their day, when a man entered, brandishing a gun. Andrew Engeldinger, a 36-year-old, former employee who’d been fired earlier in the day, killed five people and injured three other victims before turning his weapon on himself and committing suicide.

Reuven Rahamim, Accent’s founder and a leading expert in ADA-compliant and interior signage, was one of the people killed. Reporting this news on www.signweb.com last Friday was especially difficult for me because I knew Reuven. I’ve interviewed him for ADA-related articles I’ve written, and attended one of his seminars at a Society for Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD) conference. I admired that he’d started his company in his basement and grew it into an approximately $5 million enterprise.

I enjoyed talking to Reuven at International Sign Assn. (ISA) and SEGD tradeshows; it was immediately obvious that he was genuinely interested to learn about people. He always thought to ask about my daughter, which I found remarkable for someone I only spoke to or saw once or twice a year. News reports since the tragedy have recounted his business acumen and keen, innovation-driven mind, but they’ve also conveyed his devotion to his family and community.

His wasn’t the only life lost that day. Others killed in this senseless act of violence were Keith Basinski, 50, a UPS deliveryman for nearly 30 years, who was at Accent making or picking up a delivery; Jacob Beneke, 34, Accent’s digital-imaging manager and an avid artist; Rami Cooks, 62, an Accent employee and, like Rahamim, a native Israeli; and Ronald Edberg, 58, who’d worked at Accent for more than a decade and was described by her daughter as an avid outdoorsman. At the time of this writing, two other, senior members of Accent’s staff, Operations Manager John Souter and Production Manager Eric Rivers, are in serious and critical condition, respectively.
I’ll be writing more about this tragedy in our November Editorially Speaking column, and providing a forum for those who Mr. Rahamim well to relate his legacy, both to the industry and personally. Myrna Orensten, president of Imaginality Designs, a Minneapolis-based signshop, recalled him as “client, friend, collaborator and generous community supporter. He was truly a mensch [a Yiddish term for a person of integrity and honor].”
Please keep the victims and their loved ones in your thoughts and prayers in the wake of this unfathomable tragedy. And, spend a little extra time hugging your family.
 

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