LAKE PLACID — Joe Reilly passed away on Saturday morning, Feb. 25, 2012, with family by his side, at Uihlein Mercy Center, where he resided since December 2005. He was born Joseph John Reilly on a small farm near Egg Harbor City, N.J., on Jan. 9, 1925, the youngest son of Loretta (nee Doyle) and Henry Reilly.
Joe was orphaned during the Depression. He lived on the streets of Brooklyn, N.Y., briefly before finding his way to Lincoln Hall in 1938. Lincoln Hall (formerly Lincoln Agricultural School) was formed under the auspices of the New York Catholic Protectory as a facility for the care and treatment of destitute Catholic children.
Joe enjoyed his time with the Christian Brothers. In 1939, he rode in a car for the first time. It was a chauffeur-driven sedan, carrying him and his representative from the protectorate, Mr. Hart, to the Blain farm in Champlain, NY. Mr. Hart made arrangements for Joe to live with the Blain family. Mr. Hart brought many children to the North Country. While in Champlain, Joe was loved by his “Ma,” Mrs. Alma Blain. To Joe’s children, she was “Nana.” He attended the one-room schoolhouse and did chores with Louis (also taken-in) and Alma’s son, Gerald. Before getting his high school diploma, Joe joined the Marine Corps at the age of 16 and completed boot camp on Parris Island at the age of 17. Prior to deployment, he participated in amateur boxing matches. In 1942, he deployed to the South Pacific, where Joe volunteered for the 3rd Raider Battalion. Following the decimation of the 1st and 2nd Raiders (progenitors to today’s special forces), the 3rd was the only Marine battalion ever formed entirely overseas (Samoa). Joe saw action at New Georgia, Bougainville, the Solomons and New Guinea. Joe’s hearing was severely affected in one ear while working in a pack howitzer unit, and he was hospitalized at Corona Naval Hospital for elephantiasis.
After discharge, Joe lived in San Francisco until his brother, Charlie, found him, and together they drove back to New York. Joe returned to Champlain after the war, where he owned a painting business. Later, he worked as a lineman for N.Y. Telephone. He met and married Jean Elaine Angell in 1951. They had three sons: Dan, Tim and Jeff. After several promotions, Joe became terminal manager for Augsbury Corp. in Plattsburgh. In 1962, Joe became 50 percent owner and general manager of Latour Fuel Company in Saranac Lake. In 1964, he became sole shareholder. As part owner and with Leon Latour, president, in August of 1964, Latour Fuel Co. donated the land for the new hospital, where AMC stands today. Joe became an avid skier and turned his family into skiers at Bear Mountain, Skyline, Pisgah and Whiteface. He enjoyed bringing his family to the Laurentians to ski at Gabriel and Tremblant.
While in Saranac Lake, Joe was a member of the Rotary Club, president of the Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the St. Bernard’s Church Building Committee (after the old church burned). As Winter Carnival chairman (two years in a row), he brought Judy Carne and Ed Platte to Saranac Lake. Judy enjoyed a snowmobile ride to Zeke Vandenburgh’s fishing shanty on Lower Saranac.
Jean and Joe divorced in 1976. Joe married Yolande Giselle Langevin in 1978. They lived in Montreal, where Joe worked for Farquar Robinson Fuels. They later resided in Upper Jay before settling in Plattsburgh. Joe and Yolande had years of close-knit family life together with Yolande’s extended family in Saint Valentin, Quebec. Joe was well-liked while working at the ARC Workshop in Plattsburgh, bringing in many valuable contracts. He founded and operated Industrial Packaging, Inc. in Champlain for several years. He later worked at Homenergy Services, Inc. with his sons in Saranac Lake. He suffered a stroke in 1998 and could no longer work full-time.
Joe was predeceased by his first and second wives, Jean and Yolande; his brother Harry; and sisters, Loretta and Margie. He is survived by his brother Charlie of Christianburg, Va.; sons, Daniel and wife, Aggie, of Saranac Lake, Tim and wife, Debbie of West Hartford, Conn., Jeff of Saranac Lake; and grandchildren, Sarah, Erica, Amanda, Owen and Hannah, as well as Sam and Allison Blain; his brothers-in-law, Raymond and Noella Langevin, Michel and Carole Langevin, and Francois and Claire Langevin; sister-in-law Suzanne Langevin; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Calling hours will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at Fortune Keough Funeral Home in Saranac Lake, immediately followed by a funeral service at the funeral home and a reception nearby to be announced. After cremation, internment will be at Saint Valentin Cemetery in the spring. In lieu of flowers, donations in Joe’s memory may be made to Mercy Care for the Adirondacks, Inc. or to Uihlein Mercy Center, Lake Placid, where Joe received wonderful care.