North Hero, VT
Lawrence O’Reilly, 90, of North Hero (VT) and formerly Champaign (IL), passed away at the McClure Miller Respite House in Colchester (VT) on August 13 after a brief battle with cancer. Larry (aka “Spud”) was born and raised in Watertown, NY, the son of John H. and Irene B. O’Reilly. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy after high school and did his basic naval training in Great Lakes (IL) and then served at a U.S. naval hospital in Pensacola (FL). After his honorable discharge from the Navy, he attended State Teachers College in Cortland (NY). Being a baseball athlete, Larry originally planned to go into physical education, but he quickly switched into health education after walking into that college office one day and first setting eyes upon his future wife Shirley. He received his Master’s Degree from Columbia University in New York City and his Doctorate in counseling and personnel administration from SUNY Albany.
A lifelong health educator, Larry taught at Bellport, Long Island public school and SUNY Cortland in New York before taking a position with the Cooperative Extension Service at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1969. He also held a joint appointment with the UIUC Department of Community Health in the College of Applied Life Studies. At UIUC, he authored health publications and textbooks, implemented a statewide program in health education for 4-H kids and traveled the state counselling farm families. One of his special memories was receiving the Metropolis Superman Plaque from the Mayor of Metropolis (IL) after speaking to a group there. He never held a job he didn’t like but found the work he did at the University of Illinois most rewarding. He retired as an Assistant Director of the Cooperative Extension Service at UIUC and received the rank of Professor Emeritus of Extension Health Education in the School of Human Resources and Family Studies in 1993. After retirement, he continued to enjoy watching the Extension Service program “Across the Fence,” on his local TV station—he was a frequent guest on this program during his time at UIUC and it always brought back many fond memories for him.
Larry and Shirley married in 1955 and together they raised four daughters: Lauren O’Reilly (IL), Katherine Gizzi (Dave, TN), Sally Kieny (Craig, VT), and Susanne Readman (Dave, CA). The family lived in New York and Illinois before Larry and Shirley moved to Vermont full-time in 2013 where they had a cottage since 1987. Larry loved playing and watching sports, especially baseball. He played varsity baseball as a freshman at Watertown Highschool and was known as the “skinny kid” who could hit. (Shirley says he missed his calling as an MLB manager.) He also played baseball in college—though a hand injury dashed his hopes for a chance in the big leagues. Although they had no boys to pass on his love of baseball to, Larry was happy to teach his four daughters how to throw a ball, swing a bat (and not watch the ball after they hit it), and run through first base. He and Shirley coached their girls’ summer softball teams for several years in Champaign, IL. Larry was an avid fisherman and spent many summers of his youth fishing in Chaumont Bay with his brothers and father. Later, he taught his girls how to bait and set a hook—after all, if you didn’t put your own worm on the hook, you didn’t get to go fishing in the boat! The family spent many summer vacations fishing in New York, Wisconsin and Vermont over the years. Larry also enjoyed following the stock market, vegetable gardening, doing wood working projects and watching sports, especially his University of Illinois Fighting Illini basketball and football teams. He became a Red Sox fan after moving to Vermont, but always loved his Chicago Cubs and White Sox.
Larry was predeceased by his younger sister Carolyn Grieco and brothers Robert and Patrick. He is survived by his wife Shirley, their four daughters, 12 grandchildren, 4 great grandsons (a first great granddaughter coming soon!) and his brother Michael. A celebration of life will be held at a later date. The family would like to thank all the wonderful people with the UVM Home Health & Hospice team who helped us care for him over these past few weeks. If desired, memorial contributions may be made to: McClure Miller Respite House (c/o UVM Health Network-Home Health and Hospice, 1110 Prim Rd., Colchester, VT 05446); www.uvmhomehealth.org C.I.D.E.R. (PO Box 13, 110 Community Ln, South Hero, VT 05486) www.cidervt.org, the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance www.tscalliance.org; the University of Illinois Foundation (U of I Extension Annual Fund in check memo line; 1305 W. Green St., Urbana, IL 61801); www.extension.illinois.edu or, Cortland College Foundation, Inc. (the Cortland Fund, PO Box 2000, Cortland, NY 13045) https://www2.cortland.edu/campaign/ways-to-give/annual-fund
A memorial service to celebrate the life of Lawrence O’Reilly, of North Hero (VT), who passed away on August 13, 2021, will be held on Saturday, October 2, 2021, at 11am at the St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church at 1063 Prim Road in Colchester.
If feeling sick, please stay home and attend in spirit.
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