John Joseph Reilly was born in New York City on August 4, 1968 to Eileen J. and Frank J. Reilly. The eldest son of four children, he grew up in Ridgewood and Saddle River, New Jersey. John attended Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey. Along with his academic work, he ran track and cross country, played soccer, skied, and swam.
John had a life-long interest in writing. He completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in English at Stanford University in 1993 and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at New York University in 2003. He went on to write and direct the documentary Bystander in 2006, which included the last recorded interview with Hugh Thompson Jr. discussing his role in the My Lai massacre, and which was screened in eight cities as part of the 9th United Nations Association Film Festival. He also wrote a number of plays, including American Saint and In the Silo. His work was always driven by a passionate belief that people who see oppression happening should intervene.
John was a talented programmer, with a patent on procedures for consumer protection and empowerment. He also devoted two years to upgrading and revitalizing The Fireplace Restaurant, his family’s business in Paramus.
John was unfailingly generous with his time and energy, especially to friends and family. When his mother was ailing, he would call her every day to say the full rosary; he died one day before the first anniversary of her death.
John is survived by his extended family: Elizabeth Reilly of New York City; Laura, Steve, and Kayla Macdonald of Carlisle, PA; Patrick, Bernadette, Samara, and Brooke Reilly of Ridgewood, NJ; and his close friends, Catharine Alexander of New York City and Alison Graham of New York City.
We are heartbroken by John’s sudden and unexpected departure on March 5, 2022. He will be interred at the Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Upper Montclair on March 19 at 11:00 AM, with a private reception following. The family appreciates any good thoughts and prayers. Please keep him and his family and friends in the light. Donations should be made in Eileen Reilly’s name to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund https://curealz.org/ or in John’s name to the Animal Care Centers of New York https://www.nycacc.org/about
John, you will be greatly missed by many. Please rest in peace, dear sweet soul