Albuquerque Journal - October 16, 2002
Lab Engineer Was Role Model
By Paul Logan
Journal Staff Writer
Pete Rebeil was his family's "rock," as well as a father figure and role model for his brother and sisters.
Rebeil, a Sandia National Laboratories engineer, would help his siblings and his mother with financial and moral support, his family said.
Rebeil, of Albuquerque, died Oct. 6 in a traffic accident near Lamy, south of Santa Fe. His Kawasaki motorcycle collided with a Cadillac. Rebeil, who was wearing a helmet, died of a massive neck injury, said the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office. He was 39.
The office is still investigating, a spokesman said Tuesday.
Rebeil became "a father figure in the family" after their father, Juan, was hit by a car and died in the mid-1980s, said a younger brother, Roberto, of Hamilton, Mont.
"He was the strength for the family," Roberto said. "He was the rock of the family."
He said the accident shook his family, especially a sister, Cristina Rebeil of Los Angeles. The date of her father's death and her brother's funeral matched her birthday.
Juan Pedro "Pete" Rebeil was born in Berkeley, Calif., where his father went to college. All five Rebeil children were born in the United States.
When Rebeil was about 9, the family returned to Magdalena in Sonora, Mexico.
After high school, Rebeil moved to Tucson. He worked for a year while establishing residency and then earned an electrical engineering degree from the University of Arizona.
Later, Sandia National Laboratory sent Rebeil to the University of California at Berkeley for a master's in electromagnetics.
Rebeil worked in Sandia's robotics division as a system programmer, said Paul Johnson, his best friend.
Johnson and Rebeil had returned from hunting squirrels the day before he died.
"He was one of those people who would genuinely do things for you," Johnson said. "He wasn't someone who made empty promises."
He described Rebeil as quiet, nice and tremendously organized. He said Rebeil ran at lunchtime, worked out at home and was a black belt in tae kwon do.
"Everybody's really sad," Johnson said. "Everybody who worked with Pete really liked Pete. He was just a real likable person."
He said Rebeil was a safe motorcycle rider. Roberto Rebeil agreed, recalling that his brother bought the best helmet he could find.
He said his brother wasn't interested in climbing the corporate ladder. Rebeil's top priority was his family.
"He was always helping us if a car broke down with money to fix it," Roberto said. "He was a real unifying force for us."
Rebeil, bilingual in English and Spanish, mastered German in college, then French and was studying Italian.
Roberto said his brother was studious and somewhat shy, but "once you had a friendship with him, there was nothing he wouldn't do for you."
Survivors include his mother, Margarita Rebeil of Magdalena, and two other sisters, Julia Rebeil Lumsargis of Del Norte, Colo., and Patricia Rebeil of Mexico City.
Rebeil's funeral was held Saturday in Del Norte. A Mass also was celebrated Monday at Immaculate Conception Church in Albuquerque.