A great man has passed away. Jeff Reilly passed away on Friday October 29, 2021. Those who knew him will tell you that his time was too short. He was only 58 years old. These same people will tell you how much happiness Jeff has brought to their life. He wanted to express his gratitude to his son Owen and his wife Mitzi for all they have done for him, but Owen and Mitzi want to thank Jeff for being such a generous and loving father and husband.
Jeff grew up in Saranac Lake. At the start of his professional career he lived in Syracuse and Greenwich. With a little ingenuity, he was able to return to Saranac Lake to “Work at home,” something not so common at the time. As a result, Jeff has spent most of his life here. It was the best place to grow up for Owen, as it was for Jeff.
Track and field has always been a part of Jeff’s life. He played football and ski races until high school. He was still racing until Friday night in February when Matt Hinge discovered the tumor in the emergency room. Jeff went because he had a bit of a sore throat and had timed practice on Saturday morning. His 210 Rossi Super G skis remained at the front door for a few weeks thereafter. Thanks to Matt, along with the doctors, nurses and staff at MD Anderson in Houston, Jeff has had several months that he might not otherwise have had. We also thank Eric Pillemer and Sarah Ames of AMC, High Peaks Hospice and George Cook.
After high school, Jeff played rugby for the Saranac Lake Mountaineers, the Harlequins and Chargers in Syracuse and the Blue Goose in Breckinridge where he worked at a ski shop and skied many Colorado peaks. He and Kyle Munn were one hell of a pair, on and off the pitch. They were once known as Captain Pin and Major Stripe. It didn’t have to be Halloween for these two to don costumes. One night it was quiet at the Dew Drop, and a few guys from out of town were there. The Captain and Major arrived in their pinstripe suits, one blue, one pink, mixed and matched, sleeveless and with the lower legs cut and shaped into masks. No one there reacted beyond laughing and saying hello. Nothing unusual. The captain and major got some drinks and stood next to the guys from out of town who got nervous and left.
Jeff has competed in many triathlons. There is a nice picture of him with his dad Joe at the Iron Man in Montreal. Dad was extremely proud of Jeff. Jeff, in turn, was very proud of Owen, who meant everything to him. One of Jeff’s greatest pleasures was watching Owen’s ski races, lacrosse and football games, and recently Owen playing guitar with his heavy metal band.
Jeff married Emily Fogarty. Although they separated and divorced, they remained a team as devoted and loving parents to Owen.
Jeff enjoyed visiting Owen while he was attending CU Boulder. He and Mitzi were there several times, along with their friends Tommy and Sandy Michael, and Cliff and Debbie Beairsto. Tom and Jeff have been close for over forty years. He and Sandy and Jeff and Mitzi often went on vacation together.
Professionally, Jeff has traveled the world. From Saranac Lake, he often travels to Switzerland, China, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Singapore, India and Germany. Although he had lunch at the Panama Canal, skied the Wengen Downhill Trail, and drank at the Raffles where the Singapore Sling was invented, his favorite part of the trip was coming home. He completed a program in Global Business Management from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. He also received a nutrition degree from American Health Science University. Jeff had extensive experience at Fortitech and then took on the challenge of a new job at DSM as head of their new innovation partnership with Nestlé. They wanted him to move to Switzerland, but Jeff preferred to stay home. He later pursued promising opportunities at Prinova, where he recently ended his professional career as Head of Global Business Development.
Jeff was very fond of his friends and family and also loved animals, especially dogs. Working as a veterinary assistant to Dr Lopez in high school, a beagle arrived and was found with both front legs in a foot trap. Jeff helped take care of him and when no owner was found, Trapper came home with Jeff. There were other beagles and goldens. Jeff leaves behind Buddy, a beautiful and gentle walleye who can recover seven feet underwater.
Jeff had a good eye for color and he knew how to draw. Then there were the costumes he made, and at one point he and Kyle talked about opening a hat store! He was musical and loved the blues. BLUES in Chicago was his favorite club, along with Buddy Guy’s. It’s good to think he got that creative energy from his mother Jean.
Jeff also wanted to express his gratitude to his brothers, Tim and Dan, and their wives, Debbie and Aggie. But, like Owen and Mitzi, they all want to thank Jeff for being such a great brother and especially for the hours of recent chatting and storytelling that have been so immensely enjoyable. Jeff was one of the best storytellers and one of the funniest people you could ever meet. Uncle Jeff will be sadly missed by the nieces of Jeff, Sarah, Erica, Amanda and Hannah.
Mitzi and Jeff were acquaintances before meeting again, years later, through mutual friends at the winter carnival. They have just celebrated their wedding anniversary. Jeff joked that day that he knew how to give Mitzi a good time – they went to the funeral home. Tough but funny – it was Jeff. He and Mitzi have had a wonderful life together, whether it’s on a boat, cruising Old Lincoln, on vacation, or sitting at home. Jeff was very fond of Mitzi.
Funeral arrangements are in the care of Fortune-Keough Funeral Home in Saranac Lake. There will be no calling hours. A service will be held at Saint-Bernard Church on Saturday, November 6 at 11 a.m.