Former Glen Cove mayor Joseph Reilly dies

Joseph M. Reilly, former Republican mayor of Glen

Joseph M. Reilly, former Republican mayor of Glen Cove and a member of the state Assembly for 16 years, died Sept. 23, 2012. He was 85. Newsday's obituary for Joseph M. Reilly
(Credit: Newsday/Bill Davis, 1996)

Joseph M. Reilly, former Republican mayor of Glen Cove and a member of the state Assembly for 16 years, died Sunday at age 85, his family said.

Reilly, who had a heart ailment, died at his Glen Cove home.

His long tenure as a North Shore activist included his fierce opposition decades ago to the proposal to build a bridge across Long Island Sound to link Bayville/Oyster Bay to Rye in Westchester County.

The bridge was never built, despite a promise from one governor at the time, Nelson Rockefeller: "Reilly, you'll be standing right next to me when I cut the ribbon on this bridge," his widow, Margaret Reilly, said Monday.

Reilly, a lifelong Glen Cove resident, attended St. Patrick's School and Glen Cove High School; he earned a bachelor's in education from Rider College in Trenton, N.J., and a master's in business administration at Hofstra University.

He took a break from his education to serve in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific from 1945 to 1946 during World War II. In 1953, he went to work as a teacher for the North Shore School District, where he met his future wife, Margaret Power, also a teacher in the district.

He was commissioner of accounts for the City of Glen Cove from 1955 to 1961 and served as its mayor from 1962 to 1966. He became a member of the state Assembly in 1966. He resigned that post to become general service commissioner for Nassau County in 1982. Reilly got that post despite criticism from Democrats after he admitted doing little work for payments totaling $100,000 that he received from 1973 to 1980. That money was part of an insurance fee-splitting scam that led to the conviction of Nassau GOP leader Joseph Margiotta on fraud and extortion charges in 1981.

Reilly, who was not charged, testified for the prosecution in the Margiotta trial. He retired in 1992 from his county job, but remained chairman of the Republican Party for Glen Cove until 2003.

He was also active in several local organizations, including the American Legion, the Knights of Columbus and the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

In his spare time, he was an avid golfer and cook. He also was a Jets fan. "He watched the Jets game a week ago and was just thrilled," his widow said.

He also is survived by his daughter, Margaret of Oyster Bay, and sons Joseph of Cedarhurst and John of Greensboro, N.C. He has eight grandchildren.

The family will receive friends Tuesday and Wednesday from 3 to 5 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. at McLaughlin Kramer Megiel Funeral Home at 220 Glen St. in Glen Cove. There will be a funeral Mass at the Church of St. Patrick at 235 Glen St. in Glen Cove on Thursday at 10 a.m.

Burial will be at Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury. Donations in his name may be made to St. Patrick's Church.

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