Thomas Bronson O'Reilly

1920 - 2013, Santa Barbara

Thomas Bronson O’Reilly passed away on Nov. 23, 2013, at Cottage Hospital, with his wife and children present. He was 93.

Thomas was born in Plainfield, N.J. on April 1, 1920 and grew up on Shelter Island, NY. His mother Mary (Meehan) O’Reilly and father Luke O’Reilly were Irish immigrants. He had two brothers, Luke and Gil. He graduated from Shelter Island High School in 1937. He joined the US Navy in 1938 and trained as a meteorologist.

On Dec. 7th, 1941, he was stationed at the Kaneohe Naval Air Station in Oahu when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. During the attack, he and three of his mates shot down the only Japanese plane lost in the attack on Kaneohe.

After the war, he studied Political Science at Colgate University, graduating in 1948. Soon after, he met Lillian Scheideler. They wed in 1949.

Thomas made an unsuccessful bid for US Congress in 1956. Working with his lifelong friend and college classmate, Richard Bates, he campaigned from a horse-drawn covered wagon with the slogan “Pioneer in Politics”.

Thomas and Lillian settled with their 8 children in Santa Barbara, in 1964.

Starting in the early 50’s, Thomas was a sales representative and later an executive and entrepreneur, importing and inventing typewriters and business machines. He finished his business career developing the Sierra Typewriter and marketing it in the US. In 1985 he sold his patents to JUKI and retired as President of JUKI USA.

Thomas O’Reilly is survived by his wife Lillian, his children Kevin (Jean), Maureen (Murray), Colleen, Shannon (Ninoska), Rory (Laura), Tara, Siobhan, and Cathlin (Peter), 20 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

Services were held at the Santa Barbara Mission on Nov 27th.

A celebration in memory of Thomas will be held on New Year’s Eve 2013 at the family home, beginning at 7pm.

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