Visitation at Funeral Home
Obituary of Clifford Reilly
On December 15, 1925, the sun shone a little brighter in Bergen Beach, a small town on the sandy shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Brooklyn, New York. That morning, God had blessed William and Emily (Harrigan) Reilly with their second son whom they named, Clifford Booth Reilly.
During Clifford’s early years, it was a tough time for America. World War I was still a fresh wound to many families throughout our country and the Great Depression cast its hard shadow on every corner of American life. But despite these national tragedies, Clifford had a happy childhood surrounded by loving parents, a warm, extended family and lots of good, neighborhood friends. As a young boy, he spent countless hours with his friends patrolling the beach, building forts, and playing in the water, all the innocent games of childhood preparing him to be a man.
On December 7, 1941 Clifford’s childhood suddenly ended as America was finally pulled into World War II with the surprise Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. This unprovoked and vicious attack propelled tens of thousands of patriotic, young men to sign up for war. Clifford’s brother, William who was five years older, joined the Army. But under the legal age for war and still in high school, Clifford had to wait his turn to join the older, neighborhood boys.
When he was just 17, with a year to go to graduation, he came home from high school one day with a paper he wanted his parents to sign. With their permission, he could leave the safe beaches of Brooklyn and go to sea with the U.S. Coast Guard, a wartime division of the U.S. Navy. Like all good patriots of the time, his parents signed the paper and their son was assigned to the U.S.S. Ammonusuc, a 220-foot oil tanker with a crew of 50 sailors. It was a young and inexperienced crew who headed out to war at sea, with the oldest sailor on board just 21 years of age.
His mission was one of the most dangerous jobs of the war – refueling Navy fighting ships at sea. With over half a million gallons of highly inflammable fuel, the U.S.S. Ammonusuc was a floating bomb at sea, an easy, slow-moving target in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. For three years, the young sailors evaded the enemy and delivered much needed fuel to U.S. destroyers. During his tour, the boy from Brooklyn also got to see some of the world when his ship visited exotic ports like Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Guam, Saipan, the Tinian Islands and Hawaii. But like most young sailors and warriors of World War II, all he really wanted to do was return safely home.
Clifford had a passion and natural talent for music, and loved to play the trumpet. When the war was over, he used the G.I. bill to enroll as a student at the New York Conservatory of Music. But his dream of playing trumpet with traveling bands soon changed when a beautiful young lady named Elizabeth Miller, also from Brooklyn, stole his heart and they married. Clifford took a job with the New York City Department of Sanitation, retired at the age of 41, and then took a new job with an old twist – delivering fuel oil, only this time to peaceful homeowners on land. During this time, they lived in Flushing and Queens Village, New York where they devoted their lives to raising their three children, Colleen, Keith and Beth. They were later blessed with seven grandchildren, a great-grandchild. During all this time, Clifford continued his love of music, especially big band jazz, and always could be seen happily playing his trumpet.
In 1996, they moved to Cheshire, Connecticut and were always very happy to call this town their home. In 2012, his beloved Elizabeth passed away and Clifford moved into a new home in Cheshire with his daughter, Colleen, her husband, Phil, and his grandson, Clifford. Besides his daughter Colleen and her family Clifford is survived by his son Keith Reilly and his wife Ileana; his daughter Beth Best and her husband Billy; his grandchildren Laurel, Jennifer, Adam, Christopher, & Melissa; as well as a great grandchild. He is predeceased by his grandson Jeremy.
God called this wonderful, loving man home in the early morning of July 5, 2018. He will always be in our hearts as we honor his rich legacy of loving others, seeing only the good in people, and having faith in God and the family he loved so deeply.
Arrangements – Funeral services will be held on Monday, July 9, 2018, 9:45 am from the Alderson-Ford Funeral Home of Cheshire, to St. Bridget Church for a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 am. Burial will follow in Cheshire Hillside Cemetery. Visitation will be held on Sunday, July 8, 2018, from 3 - 6 p.m. at the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105.
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