South Tahoe loses a friend – massage therapist killed in accident
She died tragically at the age of 32, but family, friends and colleagues who knew Theresa Reuter say she had the soul and wisdom of someone much older and a spirit that touched everyone she met.
The South Lake Tahoe massage therapist was one of four people killed in a multivehicle accident on Interstate 80 near Vacaville on Wednesday, after a sport utility vehicle crossed through the center divide into oncoming traffic crushing everything in its path.
Reuter was returning to her South Lake Tahoe home after spending the day in Santa Cruz giving a seminar on holistic therapy. The accident, which is under investigation, involved six vehicles, including a big rig.
“She was respected by everyone. Once you’ve met her you’d never forget her. She had something about her that left you with an impression of warmth and knowledge,” said Anthony Cabral, Reuter’s supervisor at Caesars Tahoe health spa, where she worked as a massage and aroma therapist.
A woman who believed and nurtured the philosophy of mind, body and spirit, Reuter was trained in yoga and Ayurveda, an ancient Indian form of medicine that focuses on health and well-being. She grew up on the South Shore, attending South Tahoe High School but moved to Aptos her senior year and graduated high school with honors.
After graduation she attended the Holistic Therapy Institute in Emeryville and spent time in Europe to teach before returning to the South Shore.
Family and friends say she embraced the community she grew up in, becoming involved in Soroptimist International and regularly volunteered at the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center, where she taught art therapy and yoga. She was also a hospice volunteer.
In 2002 she gave a moving Mother’s Day presentation to Compassionate Friends, a support group for parents who have lost children. Reuter’s mother died when she was 2 years old in an automobile accident. She lost her father later when she was a teenager.
“She wanted to help parents get through the grieving process. She understood it very well,” said Judie Brierly, Reuter’s aunt who along with other family members raised Reuter on the South Shore. “She had this capacity and understanding for people who were dealing with death. It is one of the reasons why she volunteered for Hospice.”
Officials for the organization, which helps the terminally ill transition into the last stages of their lives, were unavailable for comment.
Reuter also possessed an entrepreneurial spirit. She owned a massage therapy business in Round Hill until last year. Since then she had been spending much of her time teaching yoga and aromatherapy classes at Lake Tahoe Community College and Kahle Community Center as well as maintaining her duties at Caesars Tahoe.
Reuter was one of the very first members of Kahle Community Center in Stateline, recalled Don Dutil, a recreation leader and personal trainer who knew her for about 10 years.
“Whether she was teaching a class or working out, she was always one to be here, always consistent with her workouts,” Dutil said. “And her yoga and aromatherapy classes were always full. Always.”
Friend and colleague Anthony Davis, who knew Reuter from his work at Kahle, was shocked and saddened when learning of her death.
“She had so much life and so much to give. She was a very kind, giving person,” Davis said. “The community will really miss her.”
Funeral services for Reuter will be announced in the Tahoe Daily Tribune within the next few days.