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Barbara Mae Reilly

July 16, 1930 July 12, 2020
Barbara Mae Reilly
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Obituary for Barbara Mae Reilly

Peoria- Barbara Mae Reilly, age 89, of Peoria, passed away peacefully at 10:00 AM on Sunday, July 12, 2020 at Christian Buehler Home.

Having died peacefully in her apartment, merely one block from her birthplace, Barbara Mae Callahan Reilly sure packed in a world full of memories. For almost 90 years, Barbara was admired for her strong Catholic faith, love of her family, infectious laugh, educational professionalism, and strength in midst of adversity.

Barbara was born July 16, 1930 to Spencer and Leona (Lavoise) Callahan at her home on the corner of Sheridan and Albany. She was the youngest of four children and her siblings predeceased her: Madeline (William) Grawey, Jack (Barbara) Callahan, and Eugene (Mary Anne) Callahan.

Barbara graduated from St. Cecilia grade school, Academy of our Lady High School, and Fontbonne College. Her harmless but wild streak was noted by many of her college friends as they recalled her sneaking out windows of the strict dormitory to go for none other than ice cream.

Her professional life began in the inner-city schools of Peoria teaching kindergarten and 1st grade at Irving and Kingman schools. She taught at Hines school when she met Edgar James Reilly on a blind date set up by a friend from the Legion of Mary association. In 1957, Ed and Barb were married at St. Philomena church; a parish Barb belonged to since its founding. Ed and Barb moved to Ottawa, Illinois where Ed continued work with Carson Pirie Scott and Barb taught at St. Columba grade school. They swore there was something in the water as they moved back to Peoria with three girls in tow.

Barb is survived by her daughters Mary Jo (Larry) Biggs, Leanne (Dion) Cantu and Maureen (Brian) Sluga; grandchildren, Shannan (Joe) Santoli, Drake Cantu, Allison Biggs and Amanda Biggs; and new great-grandchild, Dorothy Leona Santoli. Married for 44 years, Ed Reilly died March 29, 2002.

Barb continued teaching at Kellar East school until her retirement in 1990. For over 50 years, Barbara enjoyed working each summer at the Heart of Illinois fair in the office where she processed entries and awarded winners their payouts and ribbons. In retirement, she and Ed travelled worldwide and gathered many special memories with close friends.

Barb volunteered her time to many causes and was a board member of the Bergan Parents Assoc, WKRRA Homeowners, Phi Delta Kappa Educational sorority and founder of the St. Philomena Senior Club. She also enjoyed volunteering in retirement at Kellar and St. Philomena classrooms. She spent many hours sitting in auditoriums and on bleachers supporting her girls’ activities. An accomplished pianist herself, she truly enjoyed seeing her own girls and their girls perform at many concerts. Although not an athlete herself, her competitive spirit came roaring out as she would urge her daughters on in the gymnasium or tennis court by shouting, “Come on, doll!” So was her spirit, competitive and loyal. This applied to her bridge prowess, as well. She belonged to 5 bridge clubs at one time. But her “Classic Bridge Club” was the one she most enjoyed and had friendships for over 60 years. She would be proud of the fact that she still played rummy quite competitively with family members and was beating Maureen in their running double Solitaire score.

She was a 35-year breast cancer survivor and a lifetime believer in Jesus Christ and the power of prayer. Her faith was lovingly passed to her children as she and Ed lived the life of faith and sacrificed for their belief by providing a strong Catholic education. Although Barb was a great role model for motherhood, she was also a great model for how to throw a party. Who can forget the Reilly St. Patrick’s Day parties before they were in vogue to do so? Or how about the instilled mantra that no gathering could be without a theme, which led to hilarious New Year’s Day parties and wedding showers?

A Mass of Christian burial will be held on Saturday, July 18, 2020 at 10am at St. Philomena Church, Peoria, with visitation one hour prior. Father David Richardson will officiate and internment will be at Resurrection Cemetery immediately following Mass. To view the funeral virtually, please visit www.stphils.com and click on the red square YouTube icon at the top right of the home page. From there, please click on the live link to access the service.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial to St. Philomena School.

The family thanks the Buehler Home staff and residents for making Barb feel part of a larger family. Barb always felt the love and support from the Grawey families and considered them her own to love and look after when her best friend and sister, Madeline, passed. She was thrilled to be a part of their extended families.

We celebrate Barb joining Ed in heaven and ask all coming in person or in spirit to her visitation/funeral on Saturday to wear something green and smile with a prayer of thanks for her life and our memories with her.

Previous Events

Visitation

Saturday

18

Jul

9:00 AM 7/18/2020 9:00:00 AM - 10:00 AM 7/18/2020 10:00:00 AM
St. Philomena Catholic Church

1000 W. Albany Ave
Peoria, IL 61604

St. Philomena Catholic Church
1000 W. Albany Ave Peoria 61604 IL
United States

Funeral Mass

Saturday

18

Jul

10:00 AM 7/18/2020 10:00:00 AM
St. Philomena Catholic Church

1000 W. Albany Ave
Peoria, IL 61604

St. Philomena Catholic Church
1000 W. Albany Ave Peoria 61604 IL
United States

Cemetery Details

Location

Resurrection Cemetery & Mausoleum Final Resting Place

7519 N Allen Rd
Peoria, IL 61614

7519 N Allen Rd Peoria 61614 IL
United States

Memorial Contribution

St. Philomena Catholic School

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