Robert Recine, a former Rutgers football player who was left paralyzed from the neck down when he suffered a spinal cord injury during a game and later went on to serve 17 years as a New Brunswick city councilman, died on April 28. He was 64.
Recine was playing defense in a November 8, 1975 lightweight Rutgers football game against Navy when the vertebrae in his neck was shattered during a tackle. He was in his junior year at Rutgers at the time.
In early 1996, New Brunswick Democratic Organization picked Recine to fill the city council seat vacated by Kathleen Cupano, who had been elected to the Middlesex County Board of Freeholders.
When he sought a full four-year term in November 1996, Recine was elected by a 4-1 margin over an independent candidate in heavily Democratic New Brunswick. He was easily re-elected in 2000, 2004 and 2008.
Recine did not seek re-election in 2012.
He served three stints as the New Brunswick council president.
After spending 2 ½ years in rehabilitation – State Sen. John Lynch had spearheaded a fundraising effort to help pay for his medical expenses — Recine finished college and went to work for the New Brunswick Recreation Department. He later worked for the Middlesex County IT Department.
From 2003 to 2005, Recine served as executive director of the New Jersey Spinal Cord Research Commission.
He grew up in New Brunswick and came from a sports family. His father, former New Brunswick City Councilman Vito Recine, was the athletic trainer at Sayreville High School and his mother worked in the office of the Rutgers Athletic Director.
Recine is survived by his mother, Mary, his brothers, and his nieces and nephews. A memorial service will he held at a later date.