Church Organist Rolf Reinertsen - In Memoriam
February 24, 2006
Bay Ridge 66th st church
Rolf Reinertsen, who played the organ at Sunday services at the First Evangelical Free Church in Bay Ridge (popularly called “the 66th street church”) for 69 years, died last month at the age of 88.
Mr. Reinertsen died at his home in Lakehurst, New Jersey. He served as the organist at the church from 1937 until shortly before his death.
Mr. Reinertsen also directed the church choir, started a Men’s Choir and founded a Men’s Quartet.
Rev. Ivar Overgaard, the church’s pastor, praised Mr. Reinertsen’s dedication.
“Rolf Reinertsen served as organist during the ministry of seven pastors. They all loved him,” said Rev. Overgaard in a prepared statement.
The Norwegian-American community of Metropolitan New York has lost one of its finest members,” said Rev. Overgaard.
Mr. Reinertsen was the son of Selmer and Anna Reinertsen. He was 20 years old and was already a member of the congregation of the First Evangelical Free Church when he was hired to serve as the church’s organist in 1937.
In addition to providing organ music for Sunday services, Mr. Reinertsen also directed the choir and started the Men’s Choir. When World War II ended, he formed a Men’s Quartet and directed the group for more than 50 years.
His wife, Klara, was a pianist and the couple would often play organ-piano duets for their fellow church members.
When Klara Reinertsen died, Mr. Reinertsen moved out of the home they shared on 84th Street between Ridge Boulevard and 3rd Avenue and moved to Lakehurst, New Jersey.
Bay Ridge 66th st
But he still returned to the First Evangelical Free Church to play the organ at services.
Mr. Reinertsen was interred in Ocean View Cemetery on Staten Island on January 28.
A memorial service was held at Ocean County Evangelical Free Church in New Jersey.
In the First Evangelical Free Church in Bay Ridge - his home church where he served as organist for so many years - there was one more memorial service.