James P. Reamer, long-haul driver

James P. Reamer
James P. Reamer
Posted: May 11, 2013

When James P. Reamer died, his three daughters decided that land burial of his ashes would not adequately honor the man.

"We spent a lot of time in Ocean City - family vacations there," daughter Connie Laarendi said Tuesday.

"And we enjoyed spending time together on the water - fishing, crabbing, boating."

So, from her Hudson, Fla., home, where Mr. Reamer lived for the last seven years, Laarendi's sister Judith Hartley is bringing the ashes of their mother, who died in 2003.

And at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 11, family and friends will depart on a charter boat from Ocean City and, beyond the three-mile limit, as required by the Coast Guard, the daughters will take the ashes of both parents, "mingle them, and bury them both at sea."

Mr. Reamer, 84, formerly of Erial, a long-haul tractor-trailer driver, died of congestive heart failure Friday, April 26, at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph, Vt.

"He was going up there to reside" with another daughter, Terry Warshavsky, Laarendi said, "but he was only there for a couple weeks before he passed away."

Mr. Reamer had been drawn to the sea early.

Born in Philadelphia, he dropped out of high school in 1944, when he was 16, and joined the wartime Merchant Marine.

"I remember him talking about how they were taking supplies overseas, I guess to other armed services," Laarendi said.

He would tell his daughters that on Merchant Marine ships crossing the Atlantic, he would be "surrounded by walls of water one minute" and then high on the crest of a wave the next.

"We fell in love with the sea because of him," she said.

Mr. Reamer served in the Army from April 1946 to May 1949, with duty in postwar Italy from December 1946 to November 1947.

In 1948, he married Ethel Neale. "I think she was 15 and he was 16," when they met at Kirkwood Lake in Lindenwold, where South Philadelphia families would go on outings, Laarendi said.

"He was a truck driver from the beginning of his career" until he retired in his 70s, she said.

"That's how he fell in love with Florida," as a long-haul driver for Radio Corp. of America.

"His route was to South Florida. He would leave in the beginning of the week and come back at the end of the week."

And that, she said, was "how you fall in love with driving. You're your own man," out on the highways for days.

After working for RCA, Mr. Reamer was the owner-operator of his own rig, hauling for various firms. He was a longtime member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Besides his daughters, Mr. Reamer is survived by a sister, a grandson, four granddaughters, five great-grandsons, and three great-granddaughters. He was predeceased by his wife, Ethel, and sons Steven and James Jr.

Services will be conducted by a Jehovah's Witnesses elder on board the North Star, a 70-foot boat from the Ocean City Fishing Center.


Contact Walter F. Naedele at 610-313-8134, wnaedele@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @WNaedele.

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