He tells a story of being a young boy sitting on a hill with his brother Tom and his Dad, staring up at the night sky. His Dad asked him what he thought was beyond the stars, beyond the universe... He was happiest when surrounded by family, and he always wondered, challenged, and tested his world, and in doing so, challenged us to do the same.
It is with profound sadness that we announce the death on June 21, 2021 of James Daniel O’Reilly loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and friend – that young boy gazing at the stars so long ago.
Born on December 31, 1932 in Providence, RI to William and Ellen O’Reilly, recent Irish immigrants, James was the youngest of six boys. It was the height of the great depression. His father suffered from rheumatoid arthritis that often left him crippled and unable to work, leaving it to his Mother and eventually the older boys to find a way to put food on the table. Dedication to family, hard work, perseverance, and faith were the cornerstones upon which James built and lived his life.
James served in the Army during the Korean War and studied Physics at Providence College on the GI bill while juggling multiple jobs and raising a growing family. He and the family moved to Saugerties after he graduated and secured a position with IBM where he worked many years as a systems engineer. James was a dedicated family man who leaves a wonderful legacy. He made time to read stories, play catch, ice skate at “The Big Tree” and watch and coach games at the ballfield. He loved Necco wafers, orange jelly candies, Bing Crosby, and Russian literature. He was an avid golfer and a prolific writer to the opinion pages of the local newspaper. He was a founding member of the Winston Farm Alliance and he served as an Ulster Legislator from 1991 to 1995. He advocated tirelessly for the rights of unborn children.
James is survived by Barbara, his loving wife of nearly 68 years, whom he met while working at the Liggett’s drug store she frequented for ice cream sodas after piano lessons. James and Barbara had many wonderful years together. James protected and cared for Barbara. He thought of her first and never missed the opportunity to tell her how much he loved her. James is also survived by his 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 12 great grandchildren (soon to be 13); as well as numerous nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his parents and his five brothers- Michael, Francis, William, Nicholas (Brendan), and Thomas.
We wish to extend our gratitude to Dian Harvey for her loving care these last 19 months. She will be forever in our hearts and part of the stories we will tell.
We will miss James’ unassuming nature and his generous heart. He was a man of few words; a man of impeccable character.
His Funeral Procession will form 9:15 am Friday at the Seamon-Wilsey Funeral Home Inc., cor. of John and Lafayette Sts., Saugerties. Procession will then continue to St. John the Evangelist Church for a 10 am Funeral Mass. Burial will follow with military honors at the Blue Mountain Cemetery. Visitation will be held 2-4 and 7-9 pm on Thursday.
Memorial contributions in his memory may be made to National Right to Life at nrlc.org.
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