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Harry James Reilly

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Harry James Reilly Obituary

Harry James Reilly, 80, passed away Friday, October 4, 2013, at his home in Idaho Falls. His wife, Gerry, and daughter, Maureen, were with him.

Harry was born in Waukegan, Illinois, on September 8, 1933, to James and Hilda Reilly. Reared in Libertyville, Illinois, he graduated from high school in 1951, then attended Lake Forest College in Illinois, receiving a B.S. in Physics in 1955. Later, he earned an M.S. in Engineering Science from the University of Toledo, Ohio, in 1968.

He served in the Army in New Jersey and New Mexico from 1956 to 1958. Moving to Pittsburgh, he worked in the Atomic Power Division for Westinghouse. It was there he met Gerry. They married October 4, 1958.

In 1959, Gerry and Harry moved to Milan, Ohio, where he worked for NASA as a nuclear engineer at Plum Brook Station. After five years, they moved to the nearby town of Huron on the shore of Lake Erie. He became Chief of the Reactor Experiment Branch at Plum Brook in 1970. When Plum Brook closed down in 1973, the family moved to Idaho Falls, where he worked for INEL. He retired in 1993.

There were many things about Harry that made him a wonderful person. A quiet, independent man, not prone to extensive conversation, there was much love in him that expressed itself in various ways.

For more than 15 years, he did weekly volunteer work at St. Vincent de Paul Pantry. He also volunteered at the Idaho Falls Soup Kitchen and the Friends of Film committee at the Centre Theater. He tutored at Eastern Idaho Technical College.

He loved being outdoors; loved camping, hiking, canoeing, sailing, biking, ice skating; loved listening to the sounds of nature (loved the lonesome call of Loons), feeling the wind in his hair and admiring the beauty of the wilderness. He would ride his bike to work almost every day, even in winter. During the summer, going for a quick dip in the river was a favorite pastime.

A handyman, he liked to do and fix things for himself. He built a wooden sailboat in the basement of the house, which nobody knew how he would get out (somehow he did). He built a detachable outrigger for his canoe, allowing him to turn it into a sailboat.

He loved to read and to learn. His favorite magazine was Scientific American; he also enjoyed reading the National Catholic Register. Regular trips to the library kept him supplied with books; there was never a time that there wasn't a book he was reading.

He enjoyed playing games -- his favorite being chess -- and through the Internet played games with people all over the world, including his son, Rich.

Having a kind and gentle soul, he loved animals -- volunteering at the Idaho Falls Animal Shelter, feeding the birds and squirrels every day -- and cared for dogs especially. Any dog in his family knew it had hit the jackpot, being spoiled rotten, getting three walks every day around the neighborhood and at local parks. His last dog, Teddy (he claimed), had evolved to "a whole new level of dogness." More than anything else, he loved his family. He would do anything for his children, loved playing with them as kids and taking them camping. The birth of his grandson, Joseph Norman, in 2000 brought great joy to his life. Joey and "Grandpa" were best friends and spent much time together.

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Gerry Susan Reilly; his son, Thomas; his son, Richard and Richard's wife, Ann Voelkel; his daughter, Maureen Norman, her husband Dan, and their son, Joey; brothers, George (Dadee) and Bob (Mary Anne); and sisters, Pat (Bill) Shramek and Kathleen Vogel.

If nothing goes wrong, he liked to say, it's not an adventure. Sometimes his life was an adventure, but he tried his best to be a good person. His kind smile will be forever missed by his family.

A visitation will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, October 10, at Buck-Miller-Hann Funeral Home. A final blessing service will take place at 6:30 p.m. during the visitation.

Memorial donations may be made to St. Vincent de Paul Pantry, 433 May St., Idaho Falls, ID 83401; The Nature Conservancy; or the St. Joseph's Indian School.

Condolences may be sent to the family online at buckmillerhann.com.

Family Tribute

Published in Post Register on Oct. 8, 2013
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