Reilly Sr. remembered for his 'profound impact' in politics, business and philanthropy

Reilly Sr. remembered for his 'profound impact' in politics, business and philanthropy

Those who worked with and personally knew Kevin P. Reilly Sr. are today remembering the former state legislator, Lamar Advertising Co. executive and philanthropist as someone who managed to make a positive impact on just about everything he was passionate about. Reilly died on Sunday at the age of 84.

"Kevin clearly had an enormous impact on Louisiana government and its economy, but today our school chooses to remember his enormous generosity of spirit and his undying dedication to LSU and its students, particularly those at the Manship School," says Jerry Ceppos, dean of the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication, which established a chair in Reilly's name in 1997. The Reilly Center in Media and Public Affairs is also named in his honor.

A Democrat, Reilly represented Baton Rouge's District 68 in the state House from 1972 to 1987, and he chaired the House Appropriations Committee from 1973 to 1986. Following his time in office, Reilly was named secretary of the state Department of Economic Development in 1991 and served in the position for nine years.

Reilly worked for Lamar from the mid-1950s through his retirement in 1989 as the company's CEO and chairman. He served as chairman emeritus during retirement. In his time at the company, the Boston native and Harvard University graduate helped Lamar grow from a small local company to a nationally leading advertising firm. In 1990, Business Report honored him with its Executive of the Year award—one of the many prestigious awards that Reilly received throughout his life for his work and philanthropic endeavors.

Reilly and his wife, DeeDee, established the Reilly Family Foundation following his retirement. The foundation directs funds to a number of local nonprofit organizations and initiatives, including the Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation—which Reilly was particularly passionate about and served on the board in addition to providing financial support.

"It is impossible to measure the profound impact that Kevin had on the development and success of Pennington Biomedical, not to mention all of higher education and many other important organizations in Louisiana," says Jennifer Winstead, Pennington foundation president and CEO. "At Pennington Biomedical, he served as chair of the foundation twice; and in recognition for his many contributions to Pennington Biomedical, we are proud that the Kevin P. Reilly, Sr. Auditorium serves as a visible reminder of his profound contributions."

Reilly's influence extended far beyond Baton Rouge. He served as national board chairman of Volunteers of America and chairman of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, in addition to his involvement on many more local boards.

"He had a huge impact on my career, and I wouldn't be where I am today without him," says Nancy Fletcher, OAAA president and CEO. "He was so effective, and I think it was because he was such an incredible businessman and he so clearly understood the connection between business and government."

In addition to a private service for Reilly's family, a reception for family and friends is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 8, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the City Club of Baton Rouge, 355 North Blvd.

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