As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. (Proverbs 27:19) Those who knew her will say “She had a life well lived and kept a generous heart on her sleeve.” She genuinely loved everyone she encountered, and they loved her in return. She was especially empathetic toward and attentive to the vulnerable and the broken among us.
It is with profound sadness that we announce the death on October 9, 2021 of Barbara Joan O’Reilly loving and devoted wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother (Bubbie) and friend. In her life and many works, Barbara embodied agape love.
Barbara was born July 22, 1935 in Providence, RI to Palmer and Bertha Lake. She had a happy childhood and during her youth she developed a passion for music and fashion that she carried with her throughout her life. She was an accomplished classical pianist and flautist. and actually met her future husband when stopping at Liggett’s drug store for ice cream sodas after piano lessons.
Barbara took pleasure in simple things - entertaining babies, bird watching, reading, playing cribbage and bridge, golfing, holding beautiful objects like crystal and antique jewelry and eating any dessert with whipped cream on it. Her hydrangeas were particularly beautiful this year.
Barbara lived her life as a faithful servant - to her family, to her community and to her Church. She was a proud and fierce advocate of her children. She ensured they worked hard and adhered to Christian values. She attended every recital, band concert, play, academic achievement ceremony and sporting event from grammar school through college and down through three generations of O’Reilly’s. She loved family gatherings - she was the first one to arrive at the party and the last one to leave - she epitomized the long goodbye. She was our matriarch and a magnet to young and old and pets of all kind. Barbara loved her mother and moved her to Saugerties in the 70s and cared for her in her home for 25 years. She remained close to her sister Beverly and her brother Palmer her entire life. Barbara served on the Saugerties Town Board and was instrumental in the acquisition of the lands that now host Small World, the soccer fields and the Kiwanis Ice Arena. She was a co-founder of the Winston Farm Alliance and drove their fund raising efforts. As a parishioner of St John the Evangelist, Barbara served as a Eucharistic Minister. She worked at the food bank and decorated the altar each Easter. Barbara advocated tirelessly for the rights of unborn children. In support of the Pro-Life Movement she led the effort to secure, dethorn, and distribute for sale, thousands of roses to churches throughout the Hudson Valley each Mother’s Day well into her 80s.
Barbara was also a successful business woman. She was the sole proprietor of an antiques store in the village and she was the co-proprietor of a home goods store called the Blue Mountain Villager.
Barbara is survived by her brother Palmer Lake and his wife Jean. She is also survived by her five children: Kathleen O’Reilly-Sinnott, Karen O’Reilly, James O’Reilly, William O’Reilly and John O’Reilly, and their respective spouses and partners; 11 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren; as well as numerous nieces and nephews. She is predeceased by James, her loving husband of nearly 68 years. She is also predeceased by her parents, her sister Beverly Deware, her daughter-in-law Samantha, and countless friends.
We wish to extend our gratitude to Dian Harvey who cared for Barbara and James these last 22 months. We also want to thank Renee Davis and Debra Madera and the staff of the Hudson Valley Hospice for their loving care.
We will miss Barbara’s passion , her kind heart and her boundless love. She was a woman to be reckoned with; a force for good in our world.
Her Funeral Procession will form Wednesday 9:15 am at the Seamon-Wilsey Funeral Home Inc., corner of John and Lafayette Sts., Saugerties. Thence to St. John the Evangelist Church where a 10 am Funeral Mass will be offered. Burial will follow in the Blue Mountain Cemetery. Visitation will be held Tuesday from 2-4 and 7-9pm.
The family requests a donation to the Right to Life organization in lieu of flowers.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Barbara O'Reilly, please visit our floral store.
National Right to Life
1446 Duke Street, Alexandria VA 22314