Firefighter had brief but remarkable life

(Original publication: Oct. 17, 2001)

Kevin Reilly crammed a century's worth of living into his 28 years.

"He was full of energy," said Reilly's mother, Joan. "He was athletic, active in high school and college. He loved to travel, and he was very good to his family."

Reilly, a newlywed and New York City firefighter, has been missing since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center more than five weeks ago.

A memorial visitation to celebrate his life will be from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at Wyman-Fisher Funeral Home, 100 Franklin Ave., Pearl River. A memorial Mass will be celebrated at noon Saturday at St. Anthony's Parish Church, 36 West Nyack Road, Nanuet.

Reilly will be remembered for his love of sports and the New York Yankees, his kind and gentle manner and his devotion to family and friends.

He and Jennifer Mulderrig were married July 7 at St. Margaret's Roman Catholic Church in Pearl River. They went to Bermuda for their honeymoon before settling into their Manhattan apartment.

Reilly grew up in Spring Valley and Nanuet; his wife grew up in Pearl River. They met while attending Albertus Magnus High School in Bardonia.

"We enjoyed being with each other," Jennifer Reilly said. "He made me laugh. I made him laugh. He was a really good person."

Reilly was a member of the high school's baseball, track and cross-country teams and president of his senior class. He graduated in 1991.

But Reilly's athletic skills were evident even before high school, his mother said. He excelled at tae kwon do, earning a black belt.

As an adult, he backpacked by himself through Europe and later ran in the New York City Marathon, finishing in 4 hours and 17 minutes, his mother said.

Reilly attended SUNY-Oneonta, where he joined Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity and was elected the chapter's president. His fraternity brothers called him "Radar" after a character from the "M*A*S*H" television series.

He first worked as a hydrogeologist after college, but left the job after being appointed to the Fire Department in January 2000.

Timothy Geraghty got to know Reilly through their college fraternity and later became a New York City firefighter. He couldn't wait for his best friend to join him in the department.

After Reilly's appointment, Geraghty imagined a lifetime of camaraderie with his friend as they shared Fire Department functions and celebrated each other's milestones.

Reilly was so full of life that it didn't enter Geraghty's thoughts that his friend could have been lost in the Trade Center attack. Then Jennifer called to tell him Kevin was missing.

"Kevin was great," Geraghty said. "Kevin had a great human spirit. He was very outgoing, very enthusiastic. I'm going to miss him."

Jennifer Reilly, a first-grade teacher at Evans Park Elementary School in Pearl River, last saw her husband the morning of the attack. He walked her to her car and told her he would call later, then hopped on his bicycle and pedaled off to work.

He was last seen in the lobby of Tower 1 minutes before it collapsed.

Reilly was assigned to Ladder 40, his father's former firehouse, in Harlem. He was on rotation duty with Engine 207 in Brooklyn on the day of the attack. His father, George, is a retired FDNY lieutenant.

Jennifer's father, Michael Mulderrig, is an FDNY lieutenant and helped search for Reilly. She has been supported by her parents, including her mother, Mary, since the attack.

Reilly's other survivors include his brother, Edward of Nanuet; his sister, Regina Madigan of Goshen; and his grandmother, Marie Reilly.

Joan Reilly said her son was close to his siblings and paid special attention to his brother, who is learning disabled. He made frequent visits to his grandmother, whom he called "Nanny."

"He cared about everybody," Joan Reilly said. "He was very easy to get to know. I think for the 28 years he had, he had and did more than most of us."