John Thomas Reilly
Aug. 14, 1963-July 26, 2019
Palo Alto, CA
Submitted by Kelly Rose Reilly
John Thomas Reilly (aka: JR), a devoted son and brother, a loving and most wonderful husband, an exceptional Daddy, a fabulous family member, and a dear friend to many, passed away peacefully in his home the evening of July 26, just a few weeks shy of his 56th birthday and after bravely carrying on with life for nearly three years with Glioblastoma (brain tumor). We are beyond proud of Our JR.
John was born on August 14,1963, in Palo Alto to Tom and Dayle Reilly. He completed two years at UC Santa Cruz, then transferred and received his Chemical Engineering degree from UC Berkeley, followed by an MBA at Santa Clara University. After finishing his undergrad degree and taking a few months to travel through Europe, John jumped straight into high-tech sales with KLA Tencor (formerly Tencor) and remained in high-tech sales for 33 years. His last job was with Dell doing OEM Sales. John embraced his work in sales, especially the hunt for customers and working deals.
On September 23, 1995, at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in downtown Palo Alto, John married Kelly Rose Lipon, and it wasn’t long before they were blessed with their children Melanie (July 1998) and Johnny (February 2002). John, a native Palo Altan, knew of no better place than Palo Alto to raise their children. John loved sharing stories about growing up in Palo Alto with his wife and kids. During drives around town, John had a tale to share around every corner--about his Little league years, the Kipling Street Gang, his newspaper route, working at Baskin Robins and Lou Shell gas station, going to midnight movies at the Varsity Theatre, bowling, ice skating, riding mopeds, etc. And as one can imagine, there were a handful of stories that John chose NOT to tell. (Isn’t that right…high school friends!) John was an avid music lover and had a particular passion for blues. During his single days, when traveling for work, he followed his favorite blues artists at venues across the U.S.A. and added in a handful of pleasure trips to New Orleans. Prior to having a family, John also spent lots of good times with friends, traveling, boogie boarding and going out on the town. Going out served him well one June night in 1993 when he met Kelly at Gordon Biersch Brewery (now Dan Gordon’s) in downtown Palo Alto. For the record, Kelly did not give John her phone number that night, but he figured it out, and two weeks later they had their first official date. Yes, some things are just meant to be.
Over the years, John enjoyed playing the guitar, and for nearly two decades he played regularly at the 10:30 a.m. mass at his neighborhood church, Our Lady of the Rosary. John very much enjoyed playing softball with his friends, many of whom he knew from elementary, middle and high school--and every time he was up to bat he swung at just about everything for the Home Run! John relished his weekend time, starting early in the morning doing yardwork; planting, pruning, sometimes hacking (per Kelly) bushes, trees, etc. Additionally, friends and coworkers can attest that John was known for his quick wit and VERY dry sense of humor. John’s dry wit was put to good use at the many social events that he enjoyed with his children, including Dads & Daughters and Dads & Sons groups, coaching or helping with Johnny's Little League and Melanie's Softball teams, working in the classroom as a parent aide, being a parent volunteer on field trips, and attending or hosting school fundraising events for various parent parties. He also helped as a lunch time “noon angel” at the local middle school and had his own style. When telling kids to pick up their trash, he’d point and say “What’s up? Are you waiting for your mom to do it for you?” He enjoyed time at his former high school campus, volunteering at PALY events as much as his kids allowed. John was very social and loved mingling at parties, going out on date nights with Kelly, sometimes combined with other couples and meeting the guys out here and there for a beer.
John liked contributing to science and was grateful that at both Stanford and UCSF he had opportunities to partake in three different study drugs. He was very touched by ALL the thoughtful attention he got from the doctors, nurses and other staff at both Stanford and UCSF. However, he was partial to the Stanford duo of Dr. Recht and Nurse Practitioner Gwen, whose wise counsel he literally trusted with his life. John truly looked forward to seeing, talking and even joking around with them at his regularly scheduled appointments. The Stanford and UCSF Health Care Teams were incredibly caring. Words cannot express how much they helped us navigate this challenging diagnosis.
Additionally, our family is incredibly blessed with an amazing community of supportive family, friends and coworkers who jumped in with meals of all kinds, left front porch surprises, spent time with us on the home front lending a hand, and reached out often to share a kind word, a prayer, a song and good vibes. We are forever and deeply grateful to you all.
John was preceded in death by grandparents Thomas C. & Eleanor Reilly, Vince & Marie Antongiovanni, cousin Mary Alanis, some dear friends and coworkers, and some of his favorite blues artists. He is survived by his wife Kelly, his two children, Melanie and Johnny, his parents Dayle and Tom Reilly, his sister Carolyn, his in-laws John and Patricia Lipon, brother- and sister-in-laws Todd & Jodi, Randy & Jenni, Rob & Laura, and nieces, nephews, cousins and very dear friends whom he loved like family. Lastly, John prided himself on being succinct and efficient! With that said, John would prefer we not go on and on with this obituary. So we will close with this: We loved and adored John and he loved and adored us back! It just doesn’t get much better than that!
Please join us to celebrate a life well lived for John Reilly, Our JR! An evening for prayer and an opportunity for family, friends and coworkers to share John stories will be held at 6:00 p.m. Friday, August 16th, 2019 at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 751 Waverley St., Palo Alto. Note: The church will be open at 5:00 p.m. for a brief hello moment with John’s family, if you would like to arrive early. An evening reception follows at ~7:15 p.m. at the Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. The following day, Saturday, August 17th at 12:30 p.m., please join the family again for a memorial service Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary Church (OLR) 3233 Cowper St., Palo Alto followed by refreshments in the OLR hall.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in John Reilly’s name may be made to the following:
Camp Kesem Chapter at Chapman University, Orange California Donation Link: Please click box to Dedicate my donation in honor or in memory of someone. Then, Click again on “In Memory of” and write in John T. Reilly. Thank You. https://donate.kesem.org/campaign/friends-of-camp-kesem-at-chapman-university-fy-2019/c200095 John was very proud that his daughter Melanie volunteers her time to this wonderful organization so that children who have parents with cancer can enjoy a FULL (all expenses paid) super fun week of overnight summer camp.
Dr. Recht’s Brain Cancer Research: We truly believe that two of the study drugs that John tried at Stanford extended his life. Thank you, Dr. Recht, for your brilliant mind, your caring soul and for continuing to research treatments for Glioblastoma.
Stanford University Development Services P.O. Box 20466 Stanford, CA 94309-0466 Checks should be made payable to Stanford University. On check memo line: “In Memory of John T. Reilly for adult brain tumor research Dr. Recht GHAFT”. Or visit: memorial.stanford.edu (See Donations Section below)
Ada’s Cafe: if possible, indicate “In Memory of John Reilly” Link: http://www.adascafe.org/donate.html Our go-to place for John’s favorite chili, delicious sandwiches and pastries.