MARQUETTE — Robert E. “Bob” Reilly, 93, of 1600 Mill Creek Court in Marquette passed away Jan. 16, 2014, at his residence. Bob was born Jan. 29, 1920, in Sault Ste. Marie to Charles P.E. Reilly and Victoria (Radomski/Robinson) Reilly. He was a 1937 graduate of Sault High School, where he played both football and basketball. In 1939 Bob moved to Marquette to work for Wylie Loans and shortly thereafter met his future wife Margaret Miller. In October 1940, Bob joined the U.S. Navy and following basic training was assigned to the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Saratoga, which later participated in many World War II naval battles throughout the Pacific Theatre. In January 1942, the Saratoga was torpedoed near Wake Island resulting in multiple casualties and heavy damage. After temporary repairs in Hawaii the Saratoga made its way to the Bremerton Washington Naval Yard for additional repairs. Upon arrival, Bob telegraphed Margaret who was then teaching high school in Crystal Falls. Margaret took a train to Bremerton and on March 10, 1942, they were married. Following a short honeymoon, Bob returned to the Saratoga where he remained assigned until he was discharged in December 1944 with the rank of SK First Class.
Following the war, Bob attended Northern Michigan College of Education (NMU) and received a BA in Secondary Education. In 1953 he joined Margaret in teaching at Marquette Graveraet High School. In 1954, Bob, Margaret and sons Scott, Bill and Jim, moved to Elk Rapids, Mich., where he and Margaret had accepted teaching positions at Elk Rapids High School. Bob went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Michigan and for several years served as Principal and then Superintendent of Elk Rapids Public Schools. Later in his career he returned to classroom teaching and retired in 1985.
Bob was an avid golfer and during the season played nearly every day until age 88. He had a single digit handicap and over the years recorded three holes in one. During his tenure as superintendent, Bob started and coached the Elk Rapids High School golf team. Bob had many talents. He was a master wood carver and model airplane builder, crafts he learned while hospitalized after the war. A life-long aviation buff, Bob always wanted to learn to fly so at age 50, and unbeknownst to Margaret, he begin taking flying lessons at nearby Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City. He took his first solo flight in 1970 and for the next 15 years or so enjoyed many recreational flights over northern Michigan.
After retirement, Bob and Margaret continued to reside on Miller’s Park Road in Elk Rapids where they lived for 54 years. In April 2008, they moved to Marquette to be closer to family. Margaret passed away in December 2008. They had been married for 66 years.
In September 2012, Bob took one last flight. Accompanied by his son Scott he participated in the Upper Peninsula Honor Flight to Washington, DC, along with 80 other World War II veterans to visit the World War II Memorial and other sites.
Bob is survived by his sons, Scott (Dee) Reilly of Marquette and James (Darleen) Reilly of Kalkaska; a sister, Mary Beth (John) Matheson of Sault Ste. Marie; four grandchildren, Patrick Reilly and Marc Reilly of Marquette; Bill Reilly of Tawas City; and Shannon Reilly of Saginaw; 10 great-grandchildren, Michael, Mathew, Keelean and Jameson Reilly of Marquette; Brandon Reilly of Saginaw; Amber Reilly of Bay City; Jessica Reilly of Remus; Isabella, Carlito and Miguel Oseguera of Saginaw; great-great-granddaughter, Neveah Reilly of Remus; and daughter-in- law, Mary Reilly of Bay City. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews that he and Margaret were very close to.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Margaret; a son, William; a sister, Joan (James) Moynes; and a brother, Charles (Maime) Reilly.
The family would like to express its heartfelt appreciation to the caring staffs at Mill Creek Assisted Living and U.P. Home Health and Hospice as well as Dr. John Bartlett and staff at Marquette Internal Medicine.
Those wishing to consider a memorial in the Marquette area asked to consider American Legion Post 44 Marquette – Honor Guard Account, 700 W. Bluff St. Marquette, MI 49855; Mill Creek Assisted Living – Resident’s Activities Fund, 1600 Mill Creek Ct., Marquette, MI 49855, or an organization of choice; in Elk Rapids, the Elk Rapids High School Golf Team, 308 Meguzee Point Road, Elk Rapids, MI 49629; the Elk Rapids Public Library, P.O. Box 337, Elk Rapids, MI 49629, or an organization of choice.
Bob was a kind, gentle and modest man who served his country and cared for his family. He truly embodied the characteristics of the “Greatest Generation”.
The Swanson-Lundquist Funeral Home in Marquette is assisting the family. Online memories may be shared at www.swansonlundquistfuneralhome.com.
A memorial service will be held at the funeral home on Wednesday, Jan. 22, with visitation beginning at 10 a.m. A memorial service will be conducted at 11 a.m. Wednesday with Rev. Monsignor Michael Steber officiating. A luncheon at the funeral home will follow the service. Burial will be held in the spring at Park Cemetery in Marquette.