June 8, 1989 – May 25, 2019
Thomas David Reubens' high school friends, teachers and coaches knew him as an accomplished student and runner. His students at SUNY Finger Lakes and Cayuga County community colleges knew him as a passionate and inspiring teacher.
To his wife and family, Mr. Reubens was an intelligent and loving man, with a deep curiosity about and wide-ranging knowledge of many subjects, especially history and horticulture.
"I think we all feel so honored and proud of the impact that Tom had on every community he joined," said Katie Nottke, his wife of seven months. "His love of history, horticulture and humanity really were tied."
Mr. Reubens died May 25, 2019, at his home in Seneca Falls of cardiac disease. He was 29.
He was the second of four sons of Dr. Harold and Linda Singer Reubens of Ransomville. As a seventh-grader in Wilson, he qualified to compete in a statewide geography bee, cementing his lifelong love of maps and geography.
In Wilson Central High School, where he was a member of the Class of 2007, Mr. Reubens was a scholar athlete during all eight track and cross-country seasons of his high school years.
The highlights of his accomplishments include his cross-country victory in the 2006 New York State Public High School Athletic Association's Class C division and his win in the 2006 Empire State Games 5000-meter Scholastic Division race.
He and his team won four titles in Section VI Class C cross-country in 2004 and 2006. Mr. Reubens placed first in the Section VI Division II 3200 meter race in 2005 and in the 1600 meter in 2006. In his final year of cross-country, he also won the state Section VI Sportsmanship Award.
Although he qualified to compete at the state level in two races, he stepped aside for one so his teammate who had finished second could compete at states, his family said.
In 2018, he was inducted into the Wilson Athletics Wall of Fame. At the ceremony, Mr. Reubens thanked his coaches, adding with a smile, "I would disregard some of your advice, to do more work than you wanted me to do. Sometimes I suffered for that, and I should have listened more."
Mr. Reubens earned a bachelor's degree in history from SUNY Geneseo, with minors in medieval studies and French, in 2012. He also ran cross-country for two years at Geneseo.
He completed requirements early for his master's in history from Concordia University in Montreal in 2013. In 2019, he earned a Horticulture Certificate from from SUNY Finger Lakes Community College.
Starting in 2014, he was an adjunct professor at Finger Lakes, teaching Western Civilization, World History and Economic History. In 2016, he started teaching Western and World Civilization and various American History classes at Cayuga County Community College.
"It wasn't just history, it wasn't just the dry facts and dates with him, it was this whole story and picture of the times," said his wife. "He gave you a really full picture of what the culture looked like."
From 2008 to 2011, Mr. Reubens worked as a historical military interpreter at Old Fort Niagara, leading student groups and demonstrating musket and cannon use. Later he worked as a docent at Rose Hill Mansion and the Johnston House, both in Geneva.
Mr. Reubens met his wife in a French class in Geneseo. After bonding over their love of the outdoors and nature, they married on Oct. 20, 2018, at Loon Lake in the Adirondacks. Their wedding invitation asked 23 guests to "Meet us in the trees."
Mr. Reubens relished the history of New York, where he lived in several regions, his wife said. "He had really been all over the state," she said, "and as much as he was fascinated with thousands of years of history, he was also focused on local history in New York."
Mr. Reubens planted many trees on his parents' and in-laws' property, and was known for his "tree tours," his family said.
"At times we thought he had a photographic memory, because he would just read something and know it," said his father.
He was a cat lover, rescuing several from abuse or neglect, and a steadfast friend. He once loaned a buddy several thousand dollars when he himself had little to spare, his family said.
Besides his wife and his parents, Mr. Reubens is survived by a grandmother, Roberta Reubens; three brothers, Joseph, Daniel and Michael Reubens; and many aunts, uncles and cousins.
A private funeral will be held.