location Myrtle Point Myrtle Grove Myrtle Crest Bandon

James T Reilly

Died: Mon., Nov. 16, 2020

Funeral Mass

10:00 AM Fri., Nov. 20, 2020
Location: Holy Trinity Catholic Church

Print Obituary   Home Page All Obituaries

Music by The Piano Brothers

James Terrence Reilly passed away peacefully at home in Bandon on November 16, at age 86. Jim was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey on August 10, 1934. He moved to Los Angeles with his parents and five brothers when he was nine years old. Jim graduated from Phineas Banning High School in Wilmington, California and volunteered for the U. S. Army, serving as a medic in the Korean War. While stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington he met and married Donna Marie Gaines in 1956.  He earned a degree in forestry from Oregon State University and worked for the U.S. Forest Service before opening General Forest Service in Shady Cove, Oregon.


Jim and Donna were married 64 years. They lived in Oakland, California, and Corvallis, Prospect, and Shady Cove, Oregon before moving to Bandon in 1972. They raised seven children: Therese, Susan, Bridget, Mary, Brendan, William and Matthew, all of whom graduated from Bandon High School.


Jim was an avid reader, interested in a wide variety of subjects.  He also enjoyed writing and left many poems, a children’s book, essays, and even an unpublished novel. Jim enjoyed exploring the forests and beaches with his family, including his 13 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. He was an adventurous cook, remodeler, and conversationalist. Jim was a gentle man with a generous spirit.  Together, he and Donna supported their community in a variety of ways.


In lieu of flowers, the family suggests making a donation in Jim’s name to the Bandon Historical Society Museum.

Friends may offer online condolences at westrumfuneralservice.com

Click to send flowers using our local area florist
Direct website to florist ordering, saving on wire fees
View/Sign the Condolence Book

Click the button to generate a printable document containing all condolences submitted

Condolence Booklet

Kevin Kent
   Posted Thu November 19, 2020
The Final Voyage of the Helen F
Jim Reilly at the Helm

Jim would have to hurry, the tide waits for no man, and yet more importantly Jim Reilly knew God sets the feet of man on the path He crafts for us to accept. Getting up late had made breakfast, that Donna insisted on, seem rushed and malt o meal can only be made one way with really no short cuts to how long it takes to boil water. She set out a new drink of all-natural cranberry juice with no sugar for him to try, extolling the virtue of sugar free and something about antioxidants, well that had tightened his face! Nothing he had ever tasted in his life had equaled the tartness of straight cranberry juice. Donna, what a lucky choice for a lifelong love of his life, never would have happened if she had seen him on the street four years earlier than the day they first met. She would have been a head taller than him and would literally look right over the top of his head! After all these years she still likes sitting on his lap as to be close enough to feel each other’s heart beating, sharing the day being close. What a team they have become and such an important loving mother to seven wonderful children, keeping the house on keel even when “the house just needs a little fixing up!” Oh how those words would send a cold shiver down her spine! She had asked a lot of questions about fishing a boat as small as the Helen F, but how can you argue with a vessel that has been afloat for thirty years? Time seals all holes on a wood boat. Stepping out the front door, he realizes how much he loves this old house with all of its features crafted by his hands, lasting efforts meticulously designed with quality materials, though it will be a blessing when those stairs are finished.

A quick glance at his watch. 5 a.m. Well with luck he can make the short drive to the dock and still be able to make one quick stop before the tide turns. Arriving at the dock with a bag carrying a fresh donut and cup of coffee, he can’t help but notice the sunlight just touching the tops of the trees, Doug Fir standing as hundred-year sentinels over this little harbor, tall, straight as a collection. The same until closer exam shows their uniqueness. Much like his children. The girls Therese, Susan, Bridget, Mary. And the boys Brendan, Matt and Will, all taller than him, each proud of their Reilly name and unique individuality. How his heart swells with the love and pride of a father who loved their mother and in doing so loved his children.

The Helen F has pulled at her dock lines causing the spring line to sag. He thinks he will have to come up with a new knot for securing the spring line, a knot that will not loosen with wind and tide. She has rubbed against the dock chipping the paint that will require some sanding, this old boat is like life, always requiring time for loving care. Loving care is what the engine needed the last time he was at sea. Hopefully the new distributer, spark plug wires and electrical harness will keep the old gas engine purring because there is nothing that will get your attention more than a silent engine at sea. Stowing the donut by the helm and sipping on his coffee he steps back to the companion way door and admires the sun light on the surface of the bay illuminating millions of diamonds on the surface of the water, hearing the gulls sing the morning song of need. How wonderful the sea is to give such freedom to travel on her surface and be at peace. Snatching up the sole boards to check the bilge and engine oil reveals the guts of this little double ender. A turn of the key and the old engine motors to life with the comfortable sound of the water passing through the heat exchanger, the bilge pump joining in the chorus with a rhythmic squirt of water out of the starboard side. As the engine warms to its task, Jim can see Will and Therese on the dock, and he thinks why they would be there so early in the morning and Donna is with them as well. A quick glance at his watch tells him he doesn’t have time to enquire and besides they are waiving so lovingly that all he can do is smile and wave back. The lines are clear of their cleats, the bumpers are stowed and with a gentle nudge of the throttle and a twist of the wheel the Helen F is underway. It’s 5:40 a.m. One last glimpse at the dock, a loving smile is all he can afford as his left hand is on the throttle and his right on wheel, he is free of the land. It is curious why they made their way to the dock maybe they want to see if his engine repairs would truly make this old boat seaworthy. A glance at the bar confirms he is right on time with the tide making the bar flat with just a hint of swell. What a joy to cross into the open ocean its endless promise and mystery laying just ahead.

Jim admires the buildings surrounding the harbor with their access to the water, the slide from the Coast Guard building to launch lifeboats back in the day. But what is that on the south jetty but crowds of people waving! Must be a special occasion he is unaware of and hope against hope the engine doesn’t quit, how embarrassing that would be in front of such a crowd. There seems to be a person on every rock in the jetty. Coming closer the crowd are people he knows, Jim and Cathy, David and Amanda, Jack, Ken and Diana, Mavis and Dick, Breanne, Pete and Kathy, Shea and Sam, Mavis and Dick, Fred, Brendan and Kelly, Mary and Bill, Dan and Bridget, Matt and Paty, Kevin, Sarah and Erik, Keara and Jake, Audrey and Derek, Barbara, Andrew and Allie, Yvonne, Charlene, Susan, Shannon and Jeff, Kelsey and Tony, Patrick and Tracy, Deb, Tim, Shelly, Chris and Marissa, Molly, Arthur, Rozie and friends and family from all the many years all waving, cheering. He thinks no Captain of such a small vessel has had this kind of crowd adulation. What could it mean? He has no choice but to secure the autopilot (rubber tubing secured to the wheel and the doorknob to hold the wheel steady) and go out on deck to return the enthusiastic waves of love and gratitude. He would never have thought all these people would turn out to see him cross the bar, and yet each had received from him a lifetime of loving help whenever they needed it. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit the imprisoned. God’s request has been his lifelong passion.

Helen F tracks across the bar in fine form. Returning to the wheelhouse he is filled to the brim with happiness and love knowing so many have enjoyed a loving touch. He is sure if the knot meter was working it would read at least 6 knots. The engine is purring as if it were new again. Steady as she goes on a westerly heading, the bar is obscured by a thin fog bank and he can no longer see the crowd he passed on his way to the sea. Looking ahead the fog seems to be clearing as the sun reach greater height warming the surface of the water and the air is fresh with tang of sea salt. If it were not so early, he could close his eyes and sleep to the rise and fall of his little boat as it is lifted by the sea swell. How wonderful God is. He thinks of his life being the patriarch of the Reilly clan with a deep responsibility to care for so many God given gifts and his requirement to provide unconditional Love.

Looking up he can just make out a red buoy #1. The bell sounds with each passing swell, Jim thinks he must have lost track of time as there shouldn’t be a buoy this far out at sea. Coming closer he can make out another land mass and straight head a wide harbor and another buoy. Oh what is the rule he must remember, “Red Right Returning.” That’s right…stay to the right of the red buoy when returning from the sea. The Helen F sounds wonderful, the engine is gaining in strength, his eyes scan the gauges only to see the knot meter is working again! It reads 8 knots and all the other gauges are working as well, how amazing the little boat fixed itself. And look there is crowd of people on the jetty here as well, waving, more people than he can count, people he has not seen in years. His brothers Bill, Ed, Gerry and Tom were waving him into the marina. Tears well in his eyes. How can this be?

Dick Maurer
   Posted Thu November 19, 2020
To the Reilly family. So sorry to hear of the passing of Jim. He will be missed. What a wonderful man. I had so many memories when I was growing up in Prospect with the Reilly family. I got to ride with Jim in his Volkswagen bus, babysit his kids, watched OSU football, and planted many trees for his forestry business. He always treated me good. I always appreciated his knowledge and wisdom in my growing up years. Enjoyed our many conversations together. It was my honor to call him my friend. May God bless you all during this time of sadness and help with healing your hole in your hearts. Love to all,
Dick Maurer

Sandi Nortis
   Posted Thu November 19, 2020
So much time has passed since the first time I met Jim. I’d known Donna fro when she worked at the Bandon Hospital, and I worked at Security Bank. Little did I know how special these two would be my Daughter Charlene. Funny how Jim, and Joan Goodbrod, were always trying to get Char the meet one of Jim’s youngest sons. Finally to keep the peace, Char and Will met. Turns out Jim was as wise as his family always knew he was. I’m so blessed to have Jim as my daughters Father-in-Law. We will miss him terribly, but life will go on, and Jim’s legacy goes on in the love of his life, Donna, and all his children, and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. There is a vast hole in their lives, but through his, and his wife’s, loving and generous spirits, he will remain in our hearts with a smile when we think of him. My heart goes out to the family with lots of love.

Lon Samuels
   Posted Thu November 19, 2020
So sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. I enjoyed talking to Will, Matt and Jim about my American Chestnut tree at my office. They taught me how to trim the tree’s “suckers”. Yep, that was a new word to me and I learned the importance of keeping it trimmed. What a great family. We’ll all miss Jim.

Cheri, Al & Tami Noah
   Posted Fri November 20, 2020
We are all saddened by the loss of "Uncle Jim" He was the kindest man, thoughtful and full of fun. He taught me so much during all the summers spent with their family while I was
growing up. He taught me how to fish, catch crickets for bait, let me drive his VW van in Shady cove and so many more adventures and always willing to teach. We didnt see him much these last years, our fault for getting too caught up in work etc. But the many memories will never leave us.....I even remember the wedding! My fist and Best Brother in Law, He will be missed

Kim & Troy Russell
   Posted Fri November 20, 2020
Dearest Donna and Family, Troy and I send our deepest condolences. We are so grateful for the opportunity to have known Jim. You are in our hearts and prayers.

Mary Kellington
   Posted Fri November 20, 2020
My siblings and I were blessed with wonderful parents. We were privileged to have parents who loved us, cared for us, and expected us to learn, grow, and do. We were privileged to have parents who modelled a stable, loving, equal, partnership. We are so lucky to have had dad in our lives for as long as we did.

Dad participated fully in our lives. He joined high-school biology class clam digs, teased us about dates, and helped with homework.

He encouraged our efforts at music. He not only reminded us to practice, he seemed to enjoy listening to the noise that ensued—and, partly because of that, we began to make music.

Dad took us camping—often with mom—sometimes solo. He pitched our tent in the pouring rain and in the midst of clouds of mosquitoes. He cooked tasty breakfasts of gray eggs and ham. He admired our discoveries and bandaged our scrapes. He comforted me and mom when I got lost in the badlands.

Some camping trips were epic. One summer we camped across the continent and back. Once we joined dad while he maintained trails in Olympic National Park—another multi-week camping trip—this time ten miles up the Elwah River. Dad helped us build a stone oven and entertained us by bathing in the glacier-fed water each morning—while we sat on the bank and listened to him yelp with cold.

Always he shared the cooking and cleaning and he sang.

We moved to Bandon in 1972 and Dad quickly adapted to the coast. He took us crabbing and clamming. He showed us how to identify chanterelles and other forest treats and was always adventurous with his cooking experiments. They were usually delicious, but I particularly remember one gluey, sour gooseberry pudding.

Dad showed us how to move forward past failure.

Dad got great joy out of mom’s enjoyment of sports. He also enjoyed following Oregon State athletics and watching his kids and grandkids play.

Dad was competent in so many areas, from concrete work, to carpentry, to auto repair—from plumbing, to wiring, to design. Whether you were a friend, a neighbor, or a grandkid, he’d join in and help out.

In addition to remodeling his own houses, he spent a substantial part of one summer in Olympia working on our house and, similarly, pitched in on my sibling’s projects over the years. Many of dad’s grandkids received help with their cars, sometimes hands-on, sometimes troubleshooting over the phone. He was always interested, always cheerful.

Dad had a lifelong interest in transforming the spaces he lived in from what they were to what he and mom envisioned them becoming. We have a family story about mom “helping” this along by knocking out a supporting wall while dad was at work.

They’ve always been a great team.

Dad touched many people's lives and each of us has so many memories of him.

My memories are suffused with color.

I remember his bathing shorts—little bright-blue checks against his Irish white legs. Dad liked blue. We lived in several blue houses—some bright, some subdued. I particularly remember a bright blue shirt that reflected the blue of his eyes. Clear blue sky will always remind me of camping, picnics, and walks with dad.

I remember dad as green. The dark green forester pants he always wore for work. The varied greens of our western woods. The trees, but also the licorice fern, huckleberry, and miner’s lettuce.

Dad will always be with me in the woods.

Then there was the yellow crew “crummy” and all the memories from that time. Dad’s caulk boots full of mud. His hard hats, chainsaw, and planting hoe.

All the planting bags and all the tiny trees.

His dinner-time stories about his crew introduced me to a world very different from my own.

“Yellow” colors our six-week camping trip—across the U.S. and back—in that same crummy, spruced up with shag carpet and a camp-gear storage box.

I remember the black of dad’s hair, so close to me as I rode perched on his shoulders.

The soft purply-black dark of my bedroom as he tucked me in at night, sang me a lullaby, kissed my forehead and popped his cheek with his thumb.

That was the sound of “I love you,” “You’e safe.”

I remember when I was 16 and suffering from hives—dad brought me a cool sheet to wrap in, then rocked me in the darkened living room until I fell asleep.

Dad read aloud to us often—Heidi and The Wind in the Willows were two favorites. He read each many times over the years.

I remember dad reading to grandkids, a whole heap of grandkids—a couple on his lap, one kneeling on the floor with their head on his knee, one on his shoulders and one draped over the back of the chair.

Everyone engaged in the story.

That’s a multi-colored memory, as are the roses and miniature fruit trees dad planted and cared for in Shady Cove.

Dad was a wonderful parent and spouse. His example will continue to influence my life and that of my siblings and our spouses, kids and grandkids.

My memories of dad are suffused with color, and they’re beautiful.

Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Copyright © 2020 Westrum Funeral Service, INC.. All Rights Reserved.    | Website by CFS |

Privacy Policy | Terms of Use