Peter J. Reilly
Peter J. Reilly died on November 2, 2017, of duodenal cancer. A visitation will be held Friday, November 10 from 4 to 6 p.m. at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ames. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place at St. Thomas on Saturday, November 11 at 11 a.m. A lunch will follow at the church.
Pete was born in Newark, New Jersey, on December 26, 1938 to Edward and Anita (Galdieri) Reilly. After early years in Philadelphia and on Long Island, New York, his family moved to Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, where he attended Pompton Lakes High School, graduating as valedictorian and unanimously selected by his classmates as "Outstanding Boy." He attended Princeton University, where he received his A.B. in Chemistry in 1960, and the University of Pennsylvania, where he was awarded a Ph.D in Chemical Engineering in 1964.
After a brief stint at the DuPont Company in its Organic Chemicals Department in Deep Water, New Jersey, Pete began his academic career at the University of Nebraska in 1968. He joined the faculty of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Iowa State University in 1974. In Ames, he met Rae (Messer), and they married in 1976. To this marriage, he brought twin daughters, Diane and Karen.
Pete remained on the faculty of Iowa State for forty years, until his retirement in 2014, becoming Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering in 1992. He also served as visiting professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, at the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Queensland, Australia, and at the Zuckerinstitut of the Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany.
In recent decades, Pete examined biotechnologically relevant carbohydrate hydrolysis enzymes using computational techniques. He published widely in scholarly journals, and supervised twenty-two Ph.D students from eleven countries, including Korea, Nigeria, the former Yugoslavia, Turkey, Taiwan, Portugal, Switzerland, India, and China, as well as the United States. He took particular pride in the fact that eleven of his students chose careers in university research and teaching.
Pete especially enjoyed the international facet of his career, and throughout sought to enable his colleagues and students to benefit from international experiences in exchanges, summer study abroad programs, and collaborations. He founded an international program, unique in the world that exchanged students, faculty, and staff from across Iowa State University with those at the University of Glasgow. In addition, he founded university-wide exchanges for students with two universities in Lausanne, Switzerland. He enjoyed leading summer programs for chemical engineering students to University College, London and the Universidad de Oviedo, Spain.
Pete had many interests beyond his scientific pursuits. He enjoyed serving on and then chairing the ISU Library Advisory Committee. In his retirement, he served on the board of the Ames International Orchestra Festival Association, serving as its president for two years.
Pete was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife Rae, daughters Diane Reilly, her husband Giles Knox, and their son Ian; Karen Reilly, her husband Tom Fudge, and their children Nicholas and Sophie; his brother Tom and his wife Suzzie; and numerous devoted cousins.
Despite his love of Iowa, he remained a Yankees fan all his life.
Memorials may be directed to the Peter Reilly AIOFA Fund (Ames International Orchestra Festival Association) through the ISU Foundation, or the William R. Bliss Cancer Center or MGMC Hospice, both through the Mary Greeley Medical Center Foundation.
Online condolences may be directed to www.grandonfuneralandcremationcare.com
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