Hope Reichbach, a rising star 22-year-old in city politics and a key aide to Councilman Steve Levin, was discovered dead inside her Schermerhorn Street apartment on Thursday.
An “acquaintance” of Reichbach’s made the emergency call to 911 at 2:37 pm, and police arrived at the apartment near Hoyt Street to find Reichbach, the daughter of prominent Judge Gustin Reichbach who was just starting her own political career, lying on a bed. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The cause of death was not immediately released, but a source said Reichbach died of an overdose of prescription drugs. An autopsy was scheduled to take place on Friday.
Reichbach’s father broke down and told one well-wisher on Friday that he was “supposed to die before her.” The criminal court judge has been bravely battling with pancreatic cancer for several years — but his daughter’s death came “out of the blue,” according to one friend.
Reichbach was last seen at her last act of official civic duty, overseeing Levin’s Boerum Hill traffic task force meeting at the Belarusian Church on Atlantic Avenue on Wednesday night.
Reichbach was a lifelong resident of Boerum Hill, though some wrongly labeled her as a young interloper when she challenged the Brownstone Brooklyn political establishment last year by running for district leader against Jo Anne Simon. Reichbach lost, but not by the usual landslide.
On Friday, Borough President Markowitz offered his condolences.
“All of Brooklyn’s thoughts and prayers are with Hope’s parents, Judge Gustin Reichbach and Ellen Meyers, her friends, and of course, my condolences to Councilman Levin and his staff,” Markowitz said. “Here at Borough Hall we had the good fortune of working with Hope, who was a committed and passionate public servant. She truly will be missed.”
Meanwhile, at Levin’s Atlantic Avenue district office, Reichbach’s fellow employees sat stunned and declined to comment. Levin canceled several community events, including a rally in Greenpoint set for Sunday afternoon over a proposed homeless shelter.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Levin put out a joint statement calling Reichbach “a wonderful, vivacious and tough young woman, a beautiful soul who cared deeply about her community and her family.”
Reichbach was not only known for her public service. She was also popular at Gleason’s Gym, where she not only trained, but once held a boxing-themed political fundraiser.
Her trainer, David Lawrence, said he was “overwhelmed” and “totally bewildered” by the news. Lawrence said he saw Reichbach earlier this week at the DUMBO institution and said she was “happy, solid and in no way negative.”
“She’s such an intelligent, upwardly mobile girl,” said Lawrence. “This is devastating to everyone who knew her. She wasn’t a degenerate kid. She was the straightest kid I knew.”
A memorial service is scheduled for noon on Sunday, May 1 at Congregation Mt. Sinai (250 Cadman Plaza West in Brooklyn Heights). In lieu of flowers or food the family has requested that donations be made to the Nicholas Heyward Memorial fund, named after the young man who was killed in the Gowanus Houses.
©2011 Community News Group
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