Beatrice Ella O'Reilly, a longtime resident of Tipton, recently of Prairie Hills Senior Living in Tipton, passed away at Cedar Manor Nursing Home on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016, following complications from congestive heart failure and diabetes.
Bea or Betty, as she was known to her many, many family and friends, was born Beatrice Ella England on May 15, 1926, in Evanston, Ill., to John White England and Christine Katharina Barbara Rinderknect. Bea proudly celebrated her 90th birthday this past May at a joyous birthday party in her honor in Tipton with a multitude of loved ones, friends, neighbors and family from far and near.
Though born in Illinois, Bea lived for most of her childhood and early adult years in Muscatine. She attended schools in Muscatine. She was married to Harold Raymond Griffin (deceased 1953) and John Edmond O'Reilly on Oct. 20, 1961, in Miami, Fla. They made their residence in Muscatine until John and Bea moved to Coshocton, Ohio, in late 1964, living there until they retired to Florida due to John's ill health in 1986. They were married for nearly 30 years until John passed away in Tampa in 1990.
During the 1950s in Muscatine, Bea was employed first as a telephone operator, then as one of the first Yellow Pages advertising saleswomen for Northwestern Bell Telephone Co., traveling throughout the state of Iowa for several years. Then, as a single parent, she started one of the first telephone answering services in the country, "A Buzz from Bea," which she operated out of her home, serving numerous local businesses in Muscatine.
In order to earn extra income and to fulfill a keen sense of civic responsibility, Bea participated every year in calling and enlisting volunteers, sending out mailers and materials and collecting donations from the volunteers, etc., for both the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society (as a cancer survivor), with the help of her parents and her kids. She also was actively involved in Republican causes and candidates, and in elections, every election season. In Tampa, she worked as a Republican precinct captain and was proud that she met many presidents, governors, senators and congressmen.
In Coshocton, Bea owned and operated several beauty salons (Town & Country Beauty Salon, etc.) and was executive assistant at Coshocton Metro Housing Authority for many years. She was active in numerous civic and charitable organizations in Coshocton during her more than 20 years in Ohio. She was the leader of many Bible Studies and church-related activities, including trips to Israel.
But of all the things that Bea did during her time in Coshocton, the most memorable was her creation of the "10-2 Club," her personal Tuesday Club for those low income women and families in Coshocton and the surrounding communities who needed help with the essentials and activities of daily living. With whatever it was they needed help with, Bea (and John too) would see to it that they got it. Her generous heart knew no bounds and her energy knew no limits.
Bea is survived by two daughters, Janice Griffin O'Reilly of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Christine Burmeister (Ken) of Tipton; two sons, Michael S. Griffin and Thomas F. O'Reilly (Lynne), both of Tampa, Fa.; one brother, Fredric England of Grinnell; six grandsons; three granddaughters; four great-grandsons; four great-granddaughters; two great-great-granddaughters; and one great-great-grandson.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, John E. O'Reilly; her son, John H. Griffin of Muscatine; her grandson, Brad Alan First of Lowden; her sister, Roberta F. Diercks of Muscatine; and her brothers, John F. England of Grinnell and William T. England of Dublin, Calif.
Visitation is from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16, at Fry Funeral Home in Tipton and at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 17, before the funeral. The funeral will be at Tipton Calvary Foursquare Church at 11 a.m. Monday, with a luncheon immediately following. Burial will be at Muscatine Memorial Park Cemetery after the luncheon.
Memorials may be made to the American Heart Association or American Cancer Society.