Deceased February 26, 2016

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50th Reunion Book Entry

In Memory

Colorful, charismatic and occasionally controversial, Andy, a New York “super lawyer,” passed away Feb. 26 following a lengthy illness. He and I joined DU at the same time, were pals in college and saw each other from time to time. But his life was quite different from mine.

A brilliant Phi Bete, he went to Yale Law School, clerked for a federal judge and joined the distinguished Sullivan & Cromwell firm before enlisting in the Navy. He went to OCS in Newport, R.I., and spent three years in Seattle negotiating contracts in spite of pleas to get to sea. Later, he joined the much publicized Finley, Kumble, Wagner, Heine, et al. The “et al.” came to include many famous politicians—Robert Wagner, Hugh Carey, Paul Laxalt, Russell Long. Next was a stint in real estate, with some hostile and some friendly mergers and acquisitions, and then a session with the government, but his concern with the CIA and the Laos operation prompted him to leave Washington and return to New York.

His most intellectually provocative experience was in Mississippi after the “Meredith March” trying to help those being or about to be incarcerated. His locale was the area made famous by Mississippi Burning.

Married three times, he managed a more than routine social life. He became part owner of a chic New York restaurant. Besides his regular tennis games, he skied annually in Sun Valley, owned and jumped horses, went fox hunting in Europe and traveled to shooting expeditions around the world.

Andy is survived by his wife of 27 years, Randi; five children; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. He lived life to the fullest, but in the 50th reunion book, he referred to his life as fairly ordinary, somewhat “humdrum.” He was, as they say, “quite a piece of work.”

Gerry Reilly ’49

50th Reunion

I hesitated for four months in submitting even a semblance of an autobiography for it's been a fairly ordinary, somewhat hum-drum life.

After Amherst, I graduated from Yale Law School; clerked for a New York Federal Judge and then joined Sullivan & Cromwell. Within months thereafter, I enlisted in the Navy; went to officers' school in Newport, R.I. and served approximately three and one half years in Seattle negotiating shipbuilding and ship repair contracts despite pleas from me to send me to sea. Some of the non-magnetic minesweepers I was involved with ended up 35 years later in the Gulf War.

I rejoined the law firm I had left and practiced corporate law there till 1960. I left and soon became a partner in a law firm for 12 years, first as head of the real estate department and then the corporate department. I left the firm as I saw it torn by strife; then a somewhat unique phenomena for sizeable law firms but now quite common.
I then joined Finley, Kumble, Wagner, Heine et al. as co-managing partner. We built the firm from 38 lawyers when I arrived to one of the world's largest law firms of over 750 lawyers. I also headed the corporate department of the firm. Amongst our partners were a number of famous politicians including Bob Wagner, Hugh Carey, Paul Laxalt and Russel Long. That firm also became torn with internal strife and I left, again before its demise.

Since then, I have continued to practice corporate and real estate law as counsel to a firm formed by some of my former younger partners. While practicing law, I and various partners have also been active in buying companies such as Kinney Parking Company, Cunningham Dry Stores (in both of which I was C.E.O.), and American Bakeries Company. Most recently, my business activities have been primarily involved in buying real estate throughout the country, predominantly shopping centers in the Philadelphia and Houston areas.
My corporate law practice during its last few full-time years was primarily involved with mergers and acquisitions, hostile and friendly, such as Varnado, Alexanders and G.A.F. (all hostile) and the ones mentioned above (all friendly).

Two of the most interesting interludes during practice occurred in Mississippi in 1966 and in Washington with the Agency for International Development in 1965.

My government interlude was concerned with enhancing private investment in developing countries. We were extremely presumptuous in mandating the development of countries we were concerned with by insisting on how they were to plan their economies, while the parent organization, our State Department, permitted (perhaps even encouraged) bribery and corruption. I had pledged two years of service with the Government but left prematurely. It was a Vietnam escalating time! I was asked to sign a check for a CIA operation in Laos when that morning President Johnson told the world we were not and would not be in Laos. Good bye Washington and back to New York.

Perhaps my most satisfying, terrifying, intellectually provocative experience was in Mississippi in 1966, just after the "Meredith March". As lawyers, we tried to extricate a number of people incarcerated or about to be incarcerated by local law enforcers. The locale of "Mississippi Burning" was part of my territory for a short time. I went to Mississippi that summer as a ideologue. I returned wondering whether anyone had the right to disrupt an old, crumbling but functioning society without a viable alternative to present. In that respect, to me President Johnson's voting Rights Act of1964, enforced by the Federal Government went a long way to solving the problem. The "vote" made the difference and the relatively bloodless revolution was sustained.

I am on my third wife (none by death) with five children, aged from 44 to 8 and four grandchildren. For the last 13 years, I have been happy as a clam domestically. One of my daughters lives in Spain, another lives in Easthampton, N.Y. and is a painter, two boys are on Wall Street and the most challenging is in grammar school in Bedford, N.Y. with us.

So far, there has been enough on the table each year to keep us healthy but that, together with tithing to Amherst, keeps the wolf at our door but not inside the house.

My political philosophy has gone from the far left to the center. I gave up my party registration about five years ago to become an independent and have become more than a little skeptical about the ability and sincerity of most of our politicians and more reliant on the innate wisdom of the American people when, and perhaps only when a crisis is in the offering. I think the present political process of impeachment of the President, on both sides, tells it all.

Through it all, my memories and appreciation of Amherst and what it gave to me grows year by year. To rank it number 1 is to me a given.