John Reilly
John Reilly

Obituary of John J. Reilly

April 21, 2021 John Reilly, 78, of Califon, NJ died on April 19, 2021 in Hope, New Jersey. Born on June 9th, 1942 in Brooklyn NY to John (Jack Reilly) and Mary Dolan Reilly. He is preceded in death by his parents, his Aunt Alice Dolan and his beloved sisters Eileen Donlon, Joan Daly and Jaqueline Cohen as well as their spouses, his brothers in law Joseph Donlon, Eugene Daly, and Donald Cohen. He is survived by his high school sweetheart, wife, and best friend of 59 years, Gail Reilly, his daughters Adriene Makstein, Mandy Reilly, their spouses Marshall Makstein and Trevor Lewis and his granddaughters, Madeline and Rachel Makstein. He also leaves his dearest friends Tony and Maryellen Forgione and Roland and Monica Grover who he considered family, as well as his nieces and nephews Joseph, Eileen, Steven, Matthew, Neil, Peggy, Mary Kay, Thomas, Maureen, Donald and Christopher. John (Uncle Johnny) was an individual. For better or worse, he was fiercely nonconformist. He valued creativity, diversity, and above all, originality. He taught us to be ourselves unabashedly so that others might have the courage to do the same. He consistently reminded us to "hang out with people who are different from you." because he understood how that would broaden our worldview and cause a ripple effect. He had a deep appreciation for oral tradition. Be it written, spoken, painted or sung; storytelling is what he valued absolutely. He believed that the richness of the story is what endures and what connects us to one another and the world. He found humor everywhere and those who made him laugh, especially at himself, became friends. He was not a religious person, though it was the spirit of people, places and living things that moved him the most. He had strong faith and a big spirit. As his niece Mary Kay put it "he loved loudly". He loved family and friends, the NY Giants, art museums, Broadway Musicals, Cole Porter, the game of Chess, his Golden Retriever, David, painting "joyful" scenes, and Gail, the love of his life. John graduated from Art & Design High School in Manhattan and went on to become a master speedball style hand letterer in Brooklyn in the early 1960s. He later worked for many years as a successful creative director and advertising account manager in NYC. Throughout his life his passion and contribution was as a prolific painter. He was a longtime member of the Salmagundi Club and The Arts Students League and he studied portrait painting with Everett Raymond Kinsler (1926-2019) who he considered a close friend and mentor. John's work is held in private collections throughout the east coast of the US and in Ireland. Some of his work can be viewed at JohnReillyGallery.com. Memorial services will be postponed until we can safely gather. If you would like to make a donation in John Reilly's memory please consider taking action to keep arts programs alive in public schools through americansforthearts.org.
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