1923 - 2012
Thomas “Tom” Rowland Reilly died Thursday, July 19, 2012, at his home in Dayton. Graveside service with military honors will be Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, at 11:30 a.m. in Dayton City Cemetery, followed by a celebration of his life at Dayton Eagles Lodge. Professional Funeral Home is in charge of inurnment. Pastor Joe Simmons will officiate.
Tom was born 11th of 17 children on May 22, 1923, to Irish Catholic parents in Eden, Wis. Not liking the cold winters in Wisconsin, he and his friend, Tom O’Hearn, headed for California and ended up in San Francisco. Ironically, he got a job working for the railroad shoveling snow from snow-sheds, spending the next six months in a one-room shack with only a Bible and dictionary for entertainment. Tom said he came out of there like a preacher and smarter than hell.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army one month and one day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor “as the war couldn’t be won without him.” Tom often related that he almost did not get in the Army due to his size. The doctors finally stated that the Army would end up taking small guys later and to go ahead and let him in. After basic training, he shipped out very shortly with a combat outfit headed to New Guinea, where he was wounded. He was sent to Australia for treatment. At this time, he was awarded a Purple Heart. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt came through the wards and shook patients’ hands. Tom recalled that she was very caring and soft spoken.
After recuperation in Australia, he then returned to New Guinea, where he was promoted to quartermaster after his lieutenant was killed. He drove truck and hauled food, recruits, men and ammo to the boats. He served for two years, 10 months and 27 days. He was awarded: two Bronze Stars, Purple Heart, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal and Good Conduct Medal. After his discharge, he was employed by Creek and Sons, as a ‘lubricating engineer’ (aka ‘grease monkey’), when this company installed the dikes in Dayton, where he met Margie Powers. They were married on March 17, 1952, in Thompson Falls, Mont. Mrs. Reilly died in 1977.
In the late 1960s, he was owner/operator of Reilly’s Roller Rink. Tom also enjoyed tinkering with mechanics. He was a member of: American Legion Post #42, VFW Post #992 and Eagles #2618.
He is survived by faithful companion, Dee Jean Prettyman; daughter, Nancy and son-in-law Howard Hazeltine; son, James Reilly; six grandsons, Richard Hazeltine, Raymond Hazeltine, Thomas Reilly, Wayne Reilly, Adam Reilly and Dustin Reilly; six great-grandchildren; brother, Jim Reilly; sister, Jeane Reilly Secor in Wisconsin; brothers-in-law, Marion (and Zella) Powers, Vernon (and Martha) Powers and Don Powers; sister-in-law, Ilene (and Norman) Beasley; several nephews and nieces and many friends. He was preceded in death by, daughter, Diane Reilly in 2005; grandson, Craig Reilly in 1982; and 14 siblings.
Memorials may be made to Walla Walla Hospice, American Legion #42 or Dayton Eagles #2618 through the Herring Groseclose Funeral Home, 315 W. Alder, Walla Walla, WA.
Family and friends are invited to sign the online guestbook at www.herringgroseclose.com.