Robert O'Reilly '40: A Lifetime of Memories with Marianna O'Reilly Reilly
Writer Richard David Bach wrote, "True love stories never have endings." Robert O'Reilly's life was filled with love— for his wife, Marianna (Murphy) O'Reilly Reilly, his two children, relatives and friends, and for his alma mater. Bob's commitment to Saint Peter's University became evident through the creation of the O'Reilly Family Endowed Scholarship, which helps students have access to a Jesuit education despite financial capability.
Marianna has fond memories of Bob. "I am so proud of him for what he accomplished," she says. "The education he received at Saint Peter's gave him a lot of character. It's a wonderful feeling knowing that he was able to think ahead and provide for generations of students."
Bob's and Marianna's kindness in funding this scholarship has influenced the lives of many students at Saint Peter's. For Marianna's 90th birthday, former scholarship recipients wrote letters to her detailing the impact of this generosity. Nadia K. Hernández '07 wrote, "My success and accomplishments would not have been possible without the O'Reilly Family Endowed Scholarship. Please know that I am forever grateful for your generosity and hope to one day be in a position to pay it forward."
How It Began
Bob attended Saint Peter's to obtain a bachelor's degree in sociology. He was introduced to Marianna—a student of the Academy of St. Aloysius in Jersey City at the time—during a basketball game at the old Collins Gym, a meeting that would lead to a several-year courtship.
After graduating in 1940, Bob entered the Marines in 1943 during the height of World War II. He served in the Pacific Theater and saw combat during some of the worst battles of the time, such as the Battle of Saipan in the Mariana Islands. Bob was discharged from the Marine Corps as a captain in January 1946. Soon after, he flew to Los Angeles and secured a position as a warehouse manager with the Santa Fe Land and Development Company, a division of the Santa Fe Railroad. Bob returned to Jersey City to wed Marianna on Oct. 20, 1946. The day after their marriage ceremony, the couple boarded a train headed to California to a house that Bob had already bought for them.
Bob worked as a part of the Industrial Real Estate Division, then on to a private firm called Majestic Realty. Later, Bob would open his own firm, O'Reilly/Imrie and Associates, dealing exclusively with commercial real estate.
Keeping Ties With Saint Peter's
On the occasion of Bob's 50th reunion, he established the O'Reilly Family Endowed Scholarship with a gift of $100,000. "This scholarship was something he had long thought about but never revealed," Marianna says. "Bob always loved his college, his professors, his Catholicism— and was certainly honored to become a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps."
After Bob's death in February 2000, Marianna married another Saint Peter's graduate, Arthur M. Reilly, Esq. '41. After receiving his law degree from Boston College, he moved to California. They were married for nine years when he died in 2009 at the age of 89.
Marianna maintains a close relationship with Saint Peter's University. Rev. John Wrynn, S.J., professor of history at Saint Peter's, recently went to visit her. And she invited three Saint Peter's alumni and their spouses—Ann and Marty Gallagher '59 of Torrance, Calif.; Nola and Tom Colbert '61 of Healdsburg, Calif.; and Patsy and Lou Cappadona '61 of Westlake Village, Calif.—to her 90th birthday party. All are from a group of Southern California alumni who gathered annually through the efforts of Bob and Lou.
With an intricate connection to Saint Peter's past, Marianna is extremely excited about university designation. "Bob would have loved that!" she says.