ST. ALBANS — David Reissig, 82, passed away on March 30th, surrounded and supported by the nurses at Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans and held tightly in the hearts of his family, after a hard-fought battle with COVID-19.
David was born Feb. 25, 1938, in St. Albans, Vt., the son of Barton and Marion Reissig. Soon after he was born, his father was promoted to VP of the Vermont Marble Company and his family moved to the idyllic and bustling town of Proctor, Vermont. Dave would recall his favorite times as a child were spent at the Proctor swimming hole, the outdoor skating rink, the sledding hill, and playing any sport that involved a ball. He met the love of his life, Ione Baccei, in kindergarten, and they officially started dating at Proctor High School where David was a standout student athlete, playing basketball, baseball and soccer. He is still regarded as one of the best high school basketball players ever to wear a Phantom Jersey and to play in the state of Vermont. Local fans and fellow players who watched him play still talk about and make reference to his unstoppable patented pivot hook shot.
He was recruited to play basketball for Brown University in Rhode Island, and attended Brown for a year before transferring to UVM where he traded in his basketball shoes for cleats and played three years of varsity baseball for the Catamounts. He has been an avid UVM sports fan ever since.
He married Ione Baccei the year he graduated from UVM, on Sept. 17, 1960 in their hometown of Proctor. His first job was as an Insurance Investigator for the Retail Credit Company in Burlington, while Ione was a nurse at Mary Fletcher Hospital. He then took the Federal Service Entrance exam and held different positions within the federal government, moving him from midtown Manhattan to Montreal, until he took a position as an Import Specialist with U.S. Customs and settled their family in St. Albans. In 1967, he did his law enforcement training at the Customs Academy in Washington, D.C. to become a special agent, was transferred to the Investigations Division and later designated the Special Agent in Charge for U.S. Customs in Rouses Pt. NY.
During his tenure as a special agent in the 70’s, his assignments included work in the Middle East as a U.S. sky marshal, which included travel to Lebanon, Iran and Turkey, Portugal, Italy, Spain and France. He then went on to serve on Secret Service details, one of which included providing protection for then President Ford. In the 80’s he was assigned as one of two special agents to represent U.S. Customs on the security detail for the Lake Placid Winter Olympics and he was thrilled to witness the U.S. hockey team beat the Russians first hand as well as the U.S./Finland game to win the gold medal. He spent time in Key West, Florida serving as Officer in Charge for a Drug Task Force comprised of U.S. Customs and DEA special agents responsible for intercepting drug shipments from south and central America and also served as the U.S. Customs Representative to Canada for the U.S. Consulate in Montreal. At the end of his career, he became the Group Supervisor in charge of the special investigators working out of the US Customs offices in New York and Vermont, but he always missed working in the field.
After 28 years of service, at age 52, he retired early from the U.S. Customs Agency. He continued to work part-time for the Defense Department, the FBI and US State Department performing background investigations for another 25 years.
When he finally decided to leave the excitement and intrigue of the investigative world all together and truly retire, he learned how to relax in the home he and Ione built on Maquam Shore on Lake Champlain where he spent summers in his youth. He enjoyed his time with family, watching his grandchildren’s sporting events, fishing, biking, skating, skiing, playing pickleball with Ione, drinking his afternoon cappuccino, and from time to time shooting some hoops and showing off his famous hook shot.
His age did not slow him down much. It just taught him to enjoy some of the finer, simpler things in life, and as he would say, “not to sweat the small stuff.”
He will be greatly missed, especially his talks, including his repeated stories, his ability to laugh at himself, and his incredible grandpa hugs. Dave often referenced a friend who said, “If I go to heaven, I hope it’s like Proctor in the 50’s.” It’s comforting to think of him being “home.”
Dave is survived by his beloved wife of 59 years; Ione Reissig, his son Ken Reissig and partner Jean Berthiaume and grandson Kayden, of Waitsfield, Vt., his daughter Kristine Owens and husband Kevin Owens of Shelburne, Vt., his granddaughters Abby, Hannah and Emma Owens, his daughter Jennifer King and husband Shelby King, of Underhill, Vt., and his grandson Nathan King, and granddaughter Ella King. He is also survived by his brother, Barton Reissig of Burlington, Vt., and several nieces and nephews, as well as his four-legged family, Charlie and Theo.
A memorial will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the VT COVID-19 Response Fund, checks can be made payable to: The Vermont Community Foundation with “VT COVID-19 Response Fund” in memo, 3 Court Street, Middlebury, Vermont 05753 or for information and to donate online visit vermontcf.org/vtcovid19response.
Assisting the Reissig family is the Heald Funeral Home, where messages of condolence are welcome at www.healdfuneralhome.com