Skip to main content

Campus Community Mourns Passing of Ronald J. O’Reilly

Portrait of Ronald O'Reilly

The School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Radiologic Sciences mourns Ronald J. O’Reilly, who recently passed away at the age of 85. A memorial service for O’Reilly was held at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7, in the McCleary Auditorium of Saint Alphonsus Medical Center located at 1055 N. Curtis Rd. Boise, ID. The service was open to the public.

“Dr. O, as he was fondly known to faculty, staff and students, was a strong supporter of our program and of lifelong learning,” stated Joie Burns, associate professor for the Department of Radiologic Sciences and director of the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program. “We are so grateful that he chose to donate scholarships and his time to enhance our student’s education and act as a resource for our faculty for over 20 years. His warm smile and quick wit are truly missed.”

O’Reilly joined the Department of Radiologic Sciences in 1994, presenting clinical seminars on a radiologist’s view of imaging needs. He served as a resource and mentor for students in understanding the implications of the technologist’s participation in the patient diagnosis. He was instrumental in assisting the department to establish a digital imaging library and also taught a portion of the chest imaging course to the Respiratory Therapy students, utilizing this library.

“I remember Dr. O’Reilly’s warm smile and laughing eyes,” said Wende Ellis, Boise State Radiologic Sciences graduate (‘00). “He was always so friendly and fun to be around. He always had a kind word and I looked up to him so much! I have a deep respect for him and feel fortunate to have been able to learn from him. I will be forever grateful to have been a recipient of the Anna Mae O’Reilly Memorial Scholarship. Dr. O’Reilly will remain in my memories and in my heart.”

O’Reilly graduated from UCLA Medical School and completed his residency in radiology. He was a member of the American Board of Radiology for 55 years and a member of the American Board of Nuclear Medicine for 46 years. Between 1963 and 1981, he was a radiologist at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach, California. There, he became the Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Radiology. He served as a visiting professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. Later, he was an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1981, O’Reilly and his family moved to Boise, where he took a position as a radiologist at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. There, he became the Chief of the Division of Nuclear Medicine and the Medical Director of the Breast Care Center. He has presented many lectures, contributed to several books and authored multiple articles in professional journals.

O’Reilly retired from active practice in 1994 to devote his time to family and working with the students and faculty at Boise State University.

“Dr. O’Reilly was a kind, patient and knowledgeable teacher,” said Marion Smith, Boise State Radiologic Sciences graduate (‘09). “He had such a positive attitude and really helped me understand difficult concepts. I loved his classes and his sweet little dog that he brought with him. He left a positive impact in my life and career.”

O’Reilly’s impact on the Department of Radiologic Sciences is evident in many ways, not the least of which is through he and his wife Brin’s consistent philanthropic support of student scholarships. They valued these students and the work they would engage in so much that they made it a priority to personally provide financial assistance to help them see it through and in 1997 created their own named fund: The Anna Mae O’Reilly Memorial Scholarship.

“My fondest memory of Dr. O was what kind of man he was: generous, kind, gentle and patient with a great sense of humor,” said Ryan Martin, Boise State Radiologic Sciences graduate (‘08). “The appreciable amount of time he spent with each of us and the knowledge he imparted to all the students he came in contact with was truly amazing, a gift to us each. Thank you for the opportunity to remember my time with him fondly. He was truly a great man that will be missed by many.”

As if their own charity was not enough, the Department of Radiologic Sciences sought to further honor his legacy by renaming their internal scholarship fund in 2004. The Ron and Brin O’Reilly Scholarship Fund for Radiologic Sciences makes O’Reilly a permanent fixture in the future of Boise State University and students following in his footsteps.