Robert Reno, brother of former U.S. Attorney General, dies
07/07/2012 5:00 AM
07/08/2012 9:42 AM
Robert Maurius Reno, one of former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno’s two younger brothers, died Saturday morning, according to their sister, Maggy Hurchalla, of Stuart.
The Miami native was born Dec. 11, 1939, at Jackson Memorial Hospital and succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease at the Miami Veterans Administration Medical Center, where he’d been living for about four years.
He was 72 and, said Hurchalla “a proud liberal Democrat.’’
Reno became a journalist, like his parents, the late Henry and Jane Reno, and spent most of his career at Newsday, the New York daily, starting as a reporter in 1968.
As a liberal columnist from the 1980s until his retirement in early 2003, Reno took on the National Rifle Association, conservatives, and the super rich, railed against poverty, social inequality and corrupt politicians, and delighted in deflating the outsized egos of the powerful.
During Donald Trump’s 1990 financial reversals, he wrote: “At last, all of us who’ve loved the game of kicking Donald Trump while he’s up will have the fiendish thrill of kicking Donald Trump while he’s down.”
Before the 1997 wedding of the then-Federal Reserve chairman: “If only Alan Greenspan were 40 years younger, didn’t look like he was weaned on a pickle, were about to marry a rock star instead of a well-preserved, middle-aged TV news queen, Andrea Mitchell, and didn’t sound so much like a high-class undertaker pitching a top-of-the-line casket.’’
Hurchalla called her brother “a great talker and storyteller.’’
He grew up, as did his siblings, in the family’s famously rough-hewn frame house on 20 acres in what’s now the Kendall area — then at the edge of the Everglades.
The house, where peacocks roamed, became closely associated with Janet Reno’s image as tough and plain spoken, as she rose from prosecutor in Miami to become the nation’s first female attorney general in the Clinton administration.
Bob Reno, whose column ran in The Miami Herald, spoofed that image while introducing his sister during a 1994 editors’ conference in Miami: “Janny never wrestled an alligator in her life. She froze them with a stare.”
In a 1990 Mother’s Day column, he praised the strong women in his life.
“If you called her a cow, my mother wouldn’t whine and complain, she’d simply bust you in the chops,’’ he wrote. “I am the progeny of lionesses, not twits, and all the women in my family are bossy as hell.”
Hurchalla said Janet Reno, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, wouldn’t be commenting on her brother’s passing.
After graduating from Coral Gables High School and Tulane University, where he majored in “political science and the French Quarter,’’ Hurchalla said, Reno enlisted in the U.S. Army. He’d already written for The New Orleans Times-Picayune and The Miami Herald, and worked for the base newspaper at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland.
While working for Newsday, Reno lived on Long Island, in Greenwich Village, Brooklyn Heights, and on a rural spread in the Catskills that he shared with sheep and Yorkshire terriers.
After learning that he had Alzheimer’s in 2003, he joined sister Janet at the old family homestead in Miami-Dade.
In addition to his sisters, Reno is survived by daughter Janet Meliha of Brooklyn, and brother Mark Reno, of Ocala. He had been separated for many years from his daughter’s mother, the former Zaynep Toros.
The family will hold a celebration of his life later this year, Hurchalla said.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks friends — “even if they are Republicans” — to give to the Obama campaign, Hurchalla said. “That was an inspiration we had while crying [Saturday] morning.’’
A previous version of this article misstated Robert Reno's age. He was 72.
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