Ted Reinhard Sr. was proud of everything he helped accomplish at the Anthony “Tony” Canale Training Center.
The center, where Atlantic County firefighters can practice their skills in actual fires, was a few decades in the making. And when it finally opened in 1993, Reinhard was happy too that the place was named for his friend, Tony Canale, a longtime volunteer fire chief from Egg Harbor Township who died in 2002.
But before he died himself last month, at 84, Reinhard’s family and friends said, he was also proud of one special spot at the Canale Training Center. It’s called the Ted Reinhard Equipment Room, and it earned that name for a couple of reasons.
One is that Reinhard, who lived in Egg Harbor City, was president for at least 15 years of the Atlantic County Firefighters’ Association, while that group was working to make the training center a reality. But people who knew him also said an equipment room was really the perfect spot to honor Reinhard‘s contributions to the place.
“Without exaggeration, I think he got hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of firefighting gear donated” to the Canale Center, said Howard Berchtold, former chief of the South Egg Harbor Volunteer Fire Company and Reinhard’s friend for years. “We used to say he was the king of procurement.”
Reinhard would go to national firefighting conventions, representing his Atlantic County group, “And for Ted, the best part of going was working the vendors,” who were there to sell firefighting gear, Berchtold said. He added that his old friend “just had a way” of getting those companies to give samples, even of expensive products, to Atlantic County’s training center.
Ted Reinhard Jr., also of Egg Harbor City — and of the Egg Harbor City Volunteer Fire Company, where his father was a member for 60 or so years — knows how Ted Sr. did it.
“He had the gift of gab,” the son said. “He basically filled up that whole building with donated equipment.”
But Ted Jr. added that there was more to his dad’s life than firefighting. Father and son also worked together at P.J. Reinhard & Sons in their hometown. That was a cabinet-making business started by Ted Sr.’s father, Philip, where two of Ted Sr.’s late brothers and more Reinhards also worked. The company specialized in fine, custom cabinetry for local yacht-makers, and was a downtown Egg Harbor City institution for decades before it closed a few years ago.
“I couldn’t get away with anything when I was a kid,” Ted Jr. said, “because everybody knew my dad.”
Ted Sr. also enjoyed gardening and working on his house, loved tinkering with his toy trains, especially around Christmas, and was known as far back as the 1960s for his elaborate Christmas-light displays, his son knows.
“You could see that house from outer space,” Ted Jr. said.
Still, Hope Reinhard, Ted Sr.’s wife and Jr.’s mom, is serious when she says her husband’s real “hobby was the fire department” — and everything that went along with it.
“I was used to it,” she said. “We were married for 57 years.”
And as much as her husband liked being home with his family and decorating for the holiday season, she can remember him getting called away from at least a few holiday meals for fires.
“When the whistle blew, he had to go,” she said.
But she knows he was dedicated, and he was respected by other firefighters. She was reminded of that constantly at his funeral, where a steady stream of Atlantic County firefighters came to the family to offer condolences — and to say they remembered Ted Sr. as their teacher at the Canale Center.
“It was unbelievable, how many told me that,” Hope said.
Berchtold believes it, though. Because along with all his work on the Firefighters Association and the national conventions and being local chief, “Ted’s absolute love was just being an instructor. ... There’s no question in my mind that he’s trained thousands of firefighters in South Jersey,” his friend said.
And for years, he trained them on gear that might not have been there if he hadn’t talked somebody into donating it to the Ted Reinhard Equipment Room at the Tony Canale Center.
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