GERALD AMBROSE O’REILLY
Veteran of WWII’s elite 10th Mountain Division
Gerald Ambrose O’Reilly died peacefully at home, his family at his side, on May 5, 2018, after a brief illness and a long and fulfilling life. He was 95.
Blessed with a love of people and a fascination with their stories, Gerry had an uncommon ability to bond with those around him, whether they were lifelong friends or fleeting companions on an elevator ride. Anyone who spent time in his company can attest to his heartfelt interest in their lives and well-being, and his easygoing way of putting their story above his own.
Gerry’s own story began in Brooklyn, NY, in 1923, as the fourth child of Gabriel Ambrose and Carmel Katherine (Egan) O’Reilly. His maternal grandfather was Maurice Francis Egan, a well-known Catholic writer and scholar and U.S. ambassador to Denmark under three Presidents.
Gerry’s childhood revolved around stickball, streetcars and stadium—Ebbets Field, to be exact, where he could often be found on school days watching his beloved Dodgers (and hiding from the school nuns). His early love of sports became an obsession second only to his love of people, summed up in one of his many mottoes: “Any sport in a storm.”
He graduated from Brooklyn Prep, where he ran track and was captain of the tennis team, and received a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame. Two years into his studies, World War II intervened, and Gerry chose to join the elite ski troops of the newly formed 10th Mountain Army Division—despite having never set foot on a snow-covered slope outside of Prospect Park, Brooklyn.
His division was charged with dislodging entrenched German troops from the mountains of Italy. They succeeded at great cost, suffering one of the highest casualty rates of any division in the war. Gerry was wounded twice in combat and was awarded the Bronze Star for what the army citation called “heroic achievement in action”; he called it “just doing my job.”
After graduating from Notre Dame—cum laude—Gerry went on to a highly successful career in sales, retiring as VP of Trade Relations for Procter & Gamble’s Health and Beauty Care Division.
He married the former Maureen Buckley in 1958. When Maureen died suddenly in 1964, leaving Gerry with five children under the age of six, he worked to keep his family together, despite the urging of well-meaning relatives to split the children up. For this, and so many reasons, his children love him to a degree that cannot be put into words.
He married the former Seton Lindsay in 1971, and she has been the bedrock of his life for the past 47 years. A year after the wedding, they welcomed a sixth child into the family.
Gerry and Seton retired to Litchfield, CT, in 1989, where Gerry became an active member of the local sports community. So familiar a face was he at Litchfield High School sporting events, the school’s booster club presented him with their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
In addition to his wife, children, and scores of nieces and nephews, Gerry is survived by his sister, Carmelita, and 13 grandchildren. At his request, they call their grandfather “Coach.”
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Plumb Hill Playing Fields, an organization devoted to youth athletics in Litchfield, CT, and whose activities brought immense joy to Gerry’s life.
Plumb Hill Playing Fields, Inc.
PO Box 1296
Litchfield, CT, 06759
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, at 11:00 a.m. at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 49 South Street, Litchfield, CT, 06759.