Sipping Mussolini’s Wine
Litchfield's 94-year-old resident Gerald O’Reilly is the subject of the book "Nuns, Nazis, and Notre Dame"
While researching a book about individuals born and raised in Brooklyn, author Tim Pletkovich found Litchfield resident Gerald O’Reilly so intriguing that he decided the 94-year-old father of six deserved a book all his own. Thus Nuns, Nazis, and Notre Dame was conceived.
Among other footsteps, the book follows O’Reilly, of Irish Catholic descent, from his beloved University of Notre Dame, which he left for several years to “go win the war,” to sipping wine in the personal wine cellar of Benito Mussolini after the Italian dictator had left in a failed effort to save himself, to when he won a Silver Star and Purple Heart, and then his postwar career, which included a long stint at Procter & Gamble as VP of trade relations.
He has lived in Litchfield since 1989. O’Reilly had his first five children with Maureen Buckley O’Reilly, the sister of William F. Buckley Jr. Maureen died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 31. O’Reilly remarried to Seton Lindsay O’Reilly, and the couple has been wed for 46 years, producing one child.
They live peacefully on Meadow Street, where an annual ritual is cheering runners on in the Litchfield Hills Road Race. A lifelong tennis player who gave up the game just five years ago at the age of 89, O’Reilly says his key to success has been to “under promise and over deliver.” O’Reilly believes that if you give people more than they expect and not make excuses then success is fairly guaranteed. He adds, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”