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In Memoriam: Joseph Reilly '55

Joseph J. Reilly Jr. '55

Born: Tue., Apr. 21, 1931
Died: Tue., Sep. 9, 2014

Joseph J. Reilly Jr., 83, of Waltham, passed away peacefully September 9, 2014 at the Lexington Health Care Center surrounded by his family after a period of declining health. 

Joseph was born in New York, NY, on April 24, 1931 to the late Joseph J. Reilly Sr. and Anna Mae (Walsh) Reilly. As a young man, Joseph attended Xavier High School, a military school in Manhattan, where he was named Colonel of the Regiment at age 17 during his senior year. After graduation, Joseph attended a Jesuit Seminary for almost two years before receiving his BA in English Literature from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, where he was President of the Class of 1955. Later, Joseph earned his MA in Religious Education in 1970 from Emmanuel College in Boston. 

After graduation, Joseph married the late Elinor M. Flynn with whom he had 7 children and began a 35 year career in Human Resources. Later in his life, Joseph went on to work for various non-profits, including serving as the first executive director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference. He finished his career as the special assistant to the president of the College of the Holy Cross. His focus there was working to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the student population. He served as a head of the Bishop Healy Committee, established in 1979.

Throughout his life, Joseph’s passion was all things and people related to the College of the Holy Cross. It was said that Joe “bled purple” and because of this he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001 for his dedication to the College, its students and administration.  Other passions included teaching religious education to high school seniors which he did for 25 years, speaking to various Catholic groups throughout New England, and holding leadership positions in the Right to Life Movement.