It is with great sadness that her family shares the news that Rena Yusin Orner died Jan. 2, 2019, after a full life. Rena was born Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 1924, to Louis Yusin and Celia (Halpern) Yusin in the Bronx, New York.
She excelled academically and, at age 20, graduated from Hunter College, where she was a Phi Beta Kappa member. In 1944 she married Merwin Lewis Orner at Camp Crowder in Neosho, Missouri. A woman drawn to science when few women were in the field, she worked as a chemist during World War II.
After the war she and Merwin moved to Bergenfield and then Tenafly, New Jersey, where they were longtime residents. She and Merwin, along with Robert and Mary Ludlum, ran the North Jersey Playhouse in Fort Lee, New Jersey, in the 1950s, which fueled her love of the arts and her passion for promoting the things she cared about. Dance was her lifelong delight.
Rena worked briefly in public relations before beginning her teaching career. She was a chemistry professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey, until her retirement. During that time, she earned two master’s degrees: one from Fairleigh Dickinson in 1966, and one from City College of New York in 1972. She also completed course work and research toward a doctorate in science at City College. While living in Tenafly, she loved hiking at Greenbrook Sanctuary. Being close to nature was always important to her. She also relished her time at the family cottage in Roscoe, New York. In 1992, she and Merwin moved to Egremont. Following his death in 1995, Rena moved to Kimball Farms in Lenox. She resided at the Kimball Farms Nursing Care Center at the time of her death.
Her children Marilyn Orner Cromwell and husband John Cromwell, Harry Orner, and Eric I. Orner; her grandchildren William and Nora Cromwell, Jesse Lee, Amanda Hansford, and Aubrey Wagner; as well as her six great-granddaughters will miss her presence. She loved the world in all its fullness. Along with her husband, she was predeceased by her brother, Irving Yusin, who was killed during World War II.
There will be a memorial celebration Saturday March 23, 2019, at 1 p.m. at 14 Warner Road, South Egremont. Remembrances of Rena may be sent to P.O. Box 26, South Egremont, MA 01258 or through http://www.finnertyandstevens.com.