World War II veteran Michael Patrick O’Reilly Sr. was a great listener who loved his family, his grandson Charles Williams said.
“Many people in the family would seek him out for advice or to simply talk,” Williams said. “He would always offer the best suggestion; even if it wasn't something you wanted to hear.”
Possessing a knack for making people smile, O’Reilly, 84, of Hammond, was a practical jokester always having a story to tell.
“His stories often reminded me of the main character in the movie ‘Big Fish,’" Williams said.
Whether it was a Disney vacation, the annual trip to Brookfield Zoo, participating in scouts, or volunteering at school, O’Reilly made sure that he was involved, Williams said.
Eileen O’Reilly said her husband enjoyed rooting for their grandchildren at all their sporting events.
“He fostered a passion for learning,” Williams said. “He often helped me with science fair projects or Pinewood Derby cars.”
Married 60 years, the O’Reillys met when he applied to be an usher at the Chicago movie theater where she worked as a cashier.
“While I was off, one of my sisters, who also worked there, called and said ‘you should see this guy looking for a job.’ So I went over and it was Mike,” Eileen O’Reilly said.
Williams said his grandfather claimed he couldn’t skate.
“But when they went out to skate, he was an amazing skater and only told her that so she would go and he could show-off,” Williams said.
A veteran of the U.S. Navy stationed on a submarine, O’Reilly’s first priority was ensuring his family was taken care of.
“He did this in a number of ways including physically, emotionally, morally, and even financially,” Williams said. “He was always there to support us if we were injured, if were upset, if we were involved in something, or if we needed additional funding.”