Chicago Activist Community mourns death of Richard (Dick) Reilly
Longtime Palestine Solidarity Activist Richard Reilly died on February 11, 2020 following a long career of championing the rights of Palestinians. Reilly is being mourned by the Palestine community across the United State, in Palestine and among Chicago activists who knew him well
Palestine solidarity activist and humanitarian Richard (Dick) Reilly has died after a long illness. Dick was born November 21, 1952 in Los Angeles to parents Scott Reilly and Catherine Freeman (both predeceased). He is survived by his sisters Susan and Molina and his brother Lance, and by his wife Christine Geovanis.
Dick grew up in many places around the US, attending schools in California, Maine, and Alaska, and finally settling in Chicago, where he worked for decades as a compassionate and beloved psychiatric social worker at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, all while maintaining a full-time schedule committed to social justice, especially for the Palestinian people.
During the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, he was involved in launching widespread media, political and popular campaigns to defend Beirut within the United States. In 1988, during the first Intifada, he led a solidarity delegation that joined a march in Ramallah organized by Palestinian women’s organizations on the anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre. After that protest, the occupation forces deported him from Palestine and prevented him from ever returning. Undeterred, he remained staunchly involved in numerous causes related to freedom for Palestinian people and the return of their land.
Dick devoted his life to countless revolutionary and humanitarian activities and was a constant and dynamic presence at many demonstrations and protests throughout the US but primarily in Chicago. He served as a volunteer medic and as a mentor to younger activists, teaching and inspiring them. Friends recall his solidarity leadership in antiwar, trade union, peace, and climate change activism, against police violence, and for the end of mass incarceration.
Dick was a founding member of Chicago Action Medical in 2001 and an IWW member in Maine and Chicago. He was a Conscientious Objector to the Vietnam war for which he spent three months in jail. He also spent time as a labor organizer for Central Valley farm workers in California and for healthcare workers in Chicago. And he led in Chicago’s opposition to the Iraq war as a member of the Chicago Coalition against War and Racism.
Christine Geovanis, his soul mate of 27 years, shared his love of the outdoors. Together they spent many months exploring the waters of British Columbia, where they loved to kayak, and in the Canadian Rockies, where they loved to hike and outsmart bears. Chris was also his ever-present companion in their combined passion for liberation for working people the world over. The two of them formed their own team of freedom fighters.
Visitation will be held on Sunday, February 16 from 4:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. with a service at 7:00 p.m. and on Monday, February 17 from 4:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. with a service at 8:00 p.m. at Cooney Funeral Home located at 3918 W. Irving Park Rd. in Chicago. The funeral is Tuesday, February 18, with a 10:30 a.m. gathering at Cooney Funeral Home, followed by a short service. Interment at Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park immediately after. For information please call 773-588-5850 or visit www.cooneyfuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Dick’s memory are being accepted by the Middle East Children’s Alliance, MECA. A GoFund me page (Dick Reilly) has been established to assist with raising money to cover his medical expenses.
A public memorial service will be held in March.
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