Park McKnight Reilly
1920 - 2020
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Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Waterloo, died peacefully in the early morning hours of Saturday, May 2. He was 12 days away from his 100th birthday. Park was born in 1920 in Welland, Ontario, the first child of J. Park Reilly and Elizabeth M. (McKnight). He completed his early education in 1938 at Welland High School, though employment in those Depression days was scarce. Hoping to gain more education -- and hopefully the skills to secure a job -- he asked his school principal, Mr, Guy E. Johnson, to admit him to the school's technical program. Instead, Mr. Johnson personally loaned him money for post-secondary education. Park graduated from the Chemical Engineering Program at the University of Toronto in 1945. That same year, Park married his beloved H. Veva (Spencer) after the pair were set up on a blind date. They were blessed with a superbly happy marriage that resulted in four sons: Jim (Beth), Brendan (Anne), Greg, and Jeff (Joy). Over the years, Park and Veva's legacy grew to include six grandchildren (Sarah, Emma, Liam, Anne, Devon, and Katie) and four great-grandchildren (Rosemary, Duncan, Willa, and Flora). Park's distinguished career spanned many decades. After a lectureship position at U of T and a stint working at an explosives plant, he joined Polymer Corp. of Sarnia ON, a synthetic rubber producer, in 1948. In 1967, he left Polymer to become a professor at the University of Waterloo, where he stayed until his formal retirement in 1988. He remained active in academic life for many years after retirement, taking on graduate students well into his 90s. He made an impact on multiple generations of undergrad and graduate students and truly had a huge "academic family" that loved and appreciated his work. Park had an adventurous spirit and a voracious appetite for knowledge. From 1960 to 1962, Park and Veva moved with their four young children to England, where Park completed his PhD in Statistics at Imperial College, London. In retirement, Park and Veva travelled the globe (once making the trip in 80 days). Park was a prolific knitter, spoke conversational Italian, played the piano and dabbled in the flute, and had a deep appreciation for opera. He enjoyed a remarkable quality of life for all but a few months of his 99 years. The staff at Luther Village in Waterloo provided exceptional care for Park during those last difficult few months. Park will be dearly missed by his family, including his surviving sister, Mary Simpson, and his nephew Scott, who helped him a great deal in his later years. But his absence will be particularly felt by Veva, with whom he would have celebrated 75 years of marriage on July 7, 2020. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to either the Park Reilly Distinguished Speaker Series, or to the Park and Veva Reilly Silver Medal, both in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. Donations can be arranged by phone at 519-888-4567, ext. 32036. A celebration of Park's life will be held in the future.

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Published in Waterloo Region Record on May 12, 2020.
Celebration of Life
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3 entries
May 18, 2020
I worked with Park at Polysar for many years. He was a great inspiration and taught me everything I knew about statistics. Aside from being a great professional colleague he was so much fun in social settings. I especially remember times when we were doing song alongs with Park at the piano. Deepest condolences to Viva, the boys and their families.
Bud Greene
May 14, 2020
My deepest sympathies. Professor Reilly made the Engineering Math and Stats class fun, and he was always there to help us. He made a big impact on all of us. He will be remembered as one of the best professors for his dedication, enthusiasm, and effectiveness in reaching out to the students. (1980 UW chemical engineering)
Charles Fong
May 14, 2020
My heartfelt condolences. Professor Reilly managed to make Stats class fun! He will be remembered as one of the greats and an inspiration to all of us. I am grateful that I had the privilege of knowing Professor Reilly.
Caprice Chow
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