Kevin P. Reilly Sr.

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  • "A great loss to the Baton Rouge Community but a legacy that..."
    - Karen "Peaches" Beshears
  • "While Kevin and I served in the legislature we often agreed..."
  • "Please accept my deepest condolence. Kevin is an..."
    - Li Li
  • "Keeping your family in our thoughts and hearts He gave so..."
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Kevin P. Reilly, Sr., successful businessman, effective political leader, admired philanthropist, and dedicated husband, father, and grandfather, passed away Sunday, October 28, 2012 at his home in Baton Rouge, surrounded by his family. He was 84. Born in Boston, Kevin maintained an Irish temperament and a Boston accent throughout his life. He attended The Roxbury Latin School and with the support of a Navy ROTC scholarship, went to Harvard University where he played varsity baseball and was voted MVP his senior year. After graduation, he served honorably for three years as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. In 1953, after only one year at Harvard Business School, he and his young wife DeeDee moved to Baton Rouge where he worked for Lamar Advertising, a small billboard company. With his native intelligence and a drive to succeed, he soon became Lamar's CEO & Chairman, positions he held until 1989, during which time he helped build the business into one of the largest outdoor advertising companies in the nation. After he retired from active management, he continued as Chairman Emeritus, better known at Lamar as the "Eminence Grise." In 1972, having decided that he wanted to make a contribution to his adopted State through public service, Kevin was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives. He served District 68 with distinction for 16 years and chaired the powerful Appropriations Committee. As a member of the Young Turks, he attempted to introduce more progressive policies to state government and quickly became known for his outspokenness about Louisiana's needs, which generated the occasional national headline. One of his proudest legislative accomplishments was the creation of a public trust fund, commonly known as 8g. This fund permanently dedicated the proceeds from an oil and gas royalty settlement with the federal government for the benefit of elementary, secondary and higher education. This action was a reflection of his lifelong support for education. In 1992, Kevin was invited to serve as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Economic Develpment, a position hhe held for nine years under the governorships of both Edwin Edwards and Murphy J. "Mike" Foster. Kevin's brand of philanthropy was highly respected, not only for his enthusiasm as a financial supporter, but especially because he brought the same dynamic leadership that served him in business and politics to the benefit of the nonprofits that were important to him. Among his favorites were the Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation, Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation, Louisiana Resource Center for Educators (LRCE), and The O'Brien House. In his so-called retirement, Kevin and DeeDee established the Reilly Family Foundation for which Kevin served as President, helping direct philanthropic contributions to numerous nonprofits within the greater Baton Rouge community and far beyond. He was honored on numerous occasions, including the 1985 Volunteers of America Distinguished Service Award, Baton Rouge Business Report Executive of the Year in 1990, and the 2007 LPB Louisiana Legends Award. No honor, however, was more meaningful to him than when the Boston boy and his wife proudly received honorary doctorates from Louisiana State University (LSU), his adopted alma mater, in 2006. In honor of their father's public service, his children established the Kevin P. Reilly, Sr. Chair in Political Communication at LSU's School of Mass Communication. This led to the creation of the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, the only such center in the country to focus on the study and practice of media and public affairs. Throughout his lifetime, Kevin remained dapper, athletic, and engaged in his family and in life, always relishing a good argument -- the more spirited the better, until Parkinson's disease took its toll. Kevin is survived by his wife of 60 years, Ann Switzer (DeeDee) Reilly, four children and their spouses - sons Kevin, Jr. and Winifred; Wendell and Mary; Sean and Jennifer; and daughter Anna and husband Matthew Cullinan--and eleven grandchildren--Ross and Hayden Reilly; Gray, Jamie and Molly Reilly; Anna Maeve, Aidan and Rowan Reilly; Grace, Walker and Julia Cullinan. He is also survived by a sister, Elizabeth Moynihan of Princeton, NJ, and a brother, Gene Reilly of West Newburyport, MA. He was predeceased by his parents, Molly and Gene Reilly, and his brother Brendan Reilly. Kevin was grateful throughout his life for his many friends, partners and mentors. The family is also grateful for those who helped make Kevin's later years as familiar and comfortable as possible. A private service will be held for the family. A reception to celebrate the life and legacy of Kevin Reilly, Sr. will be held for family and friends on November 8th from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at the City Club of Baton Rouge, 355 North Boulevard, Baton Rouge, LA. In lieu of flowers, the family would be grateful for contributions to The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, 222-A Journalism Building, LSU School of Mass Communication, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, The Speech and Hearing Foundation, 535 West Roosevelt Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, 6400 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70808, Louisiana Resource Center for Educators (LRCE), 5550 Florida Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70806, O'Brien House, 1220 Main Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802, Hospice of Greater Baton Rouge, 9063 Siegen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70810 or a . Sign the online Condolence Book at "For those to whom much is given, much is required." Luke 12:48.
Published in from Oct. 28 to Oct. 29, 2012
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