Notre Dame trustee William F. Reilly dies

Author: Arts and Letters


William F. Reilly, Notre Dame trustee and chairman and chief executive officer of Summit Business Media, died Friday (Oct. 17) at home in New York City. He was 70 years old.

“Bill Reilly has served Notre Dame in countless and invaluable ways over the years,” said Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. “His death is a painful loss for the entire Notre Dame family, and we send our heartfelt and prayerful condolences to his own.”

Elected to Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees in 1995, Reilly had served on the advisory council for the University’s College of Arts and Letters for six years prior to his election.

A 1959 graduate of Notre Dame, Reilly also earned a master’s degree in business administration from the Harvard Business School. He began his business career in 1964, working as a financial analyst at W.R. Grace & Co. in New York. He remained at Grace, becoming president and chief executive officer of several of the company’s divisions, for the next 16 years. In 1967 he took a two-year leave of absence from Grace to serve as assistant commissioner of finance for the City of New York.

Reilly left Grace in 1980 and became president and chief executive officer of MacMillan, Inc., a position in which he remained until 1990, when he founded PRIMEDIA, Inc., a diversified media company in which he was chairman and chief executive officer until 1999.

Reilly was chairman and chief executive officer of Aurelian Communications from 1999 to 2006.

In addition to his service on Notre Dame’s Board, Reilly was an active member of the boards of WNET, the public television station serving the New York area, and the Harvard Business School Publications. He also was co-chairman of the endowment fund for Cardinal Hayes High School in inner-city Bronx.

A funeral Mass for Reilly will be celebrated Wednesday (Oct. 22) at 10 a.m. in Saint Ignatius of Loyola Roman Catholic Church (980 Park Ave.) in New York City.

Originally published by Michael O. Garvey at on October 20, 2008.