Kevin Reilly

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Kevin Patrick Reilly, Sr.​

Louisiana State Representative for
District 68 (East Baton Rouge Parish)​
In office
1972​ – 1988​
Preceded by At-large delegation, including Chris Faser, Jr.
Succeeded by Sean Reilly ​

Born July 22, 1928​
Boston, Massachusetts, USA​
Died October 28, 2012 (aged 84)​
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Ann Lamar Switzer ("Dee Dee") Reilly (married 1952-2012, his death)​
Children Kevin P. Reilly, Jr.
Wendell Reilly
Sean Reilly
Anna R. Cullinan​
Alma mater Roxbury Latin School
Harvard University
Occupation Advertising executive​

United States Navy in Korean War

Kevin Patrick Reilly, Sr. (July 22, 1928 – October 28, 2012), was the executive officer of the Lamar Advertising Company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who served from 1972 to 1988 as a state representative for District 68 in East Baton Rouge Parish.[1]

Reilly did not seek a fifth term in the House but was instead defeated in 1987 in the nonpartisan blanket primary for state treasurer by his House colleague and fellow Democrat, future U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu. In 1992, Reilly was named Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Economic Development, a position which he maintained for a total of nine years under both Governors Edwin Edwards and Murphy J. "Mike" Foster, Jr.[2]

Sean Eugene Reilly is chief operations officer and vice president of mergers and acquisitions for Lamar Advertising. A Democrat, he succeeded his father in the legislature and held the District 68 seat for two terms from 1988 to 1996 but did not seek a third term in the 1995 primary.[1][3]​ ​


Reilly was one of four children born to Gene and Molly Reilly in Boston, Massachusetts, where he attended the Roxbury Latin School. With assistance from a Reserve Officers Training Corps scholarship, he attended Harvard University, at which he played varsity baseball and was voted "Most Valuable Player" during his senior year. After graduation, he served honorably for three years as a lieutenant in the United States Navy during the Korean War.[2]

In 1953, after only one year at Harvard Business School, he and his young wife, the former Ann Switzer, known as "DeeDee", relocated to Baton Rouge, at which he began employment by her family's Lamar Advertising, then a small billboard company. Reilly eventually became the chairman and chief operating officer of the company, having continued in those positions until 1989.[2][4]​ ​

Public career

​ Reilly served in the legislature for fourteen years as chairman of the influential House Appropriations Committee until he was removed by House Speaker John Alario of JJefferson Parish]] for having publicly criticized his later boss, Governor Edwards. During Reilly's thirteen years as committee chairman, the Louisiana budget grew from $1 billion to $6 billion, from $2 billion to $6 billion between 1980 and 1986 alone.[5] As a representative, Reilly pushed for the establishment of a public trust fund with certain oil and natural gas royalties earmarked for elementary, secondary, and higher education.[2]​ ​

In 1986, Reilly made controversial remarks in People' magazine in which he portrayed his fellow Louisiana citizens as "just plain dumb."[5] In a speech before the Louisiana Broadcasters Association in February 1986, Reilly's legislative colleague Ron Gomez of Lafayette, himself a journalist, questioned Reilly’s judgment in making such statements to the magazine:
[He] was wearing farming coveralls which were so short that they exposed his bare ankles over a pair of brogans. He was standing next to a pickup truck with the traditional shotgun slung across the rear window. He was quoted as saying all it took to make Louisianians happy was a pickup and a shotgun. That was one of the more generous quotes."[6]

On October 24, 1987, Reilly finished second in the primary for state treasurer when the long-term incumbent, Mary Evelyn Parker of Baton Rouge, did not seek reelection. He polled 437,438 (32 percent), while Mary Landrieu led with 602,879 (44 percent). Another legislator, Anthony Claude "Buddy" Leach, Jr., then a state House member and a former U.S. Representative for Louisiana's 4th congressional district, ran third, with 210,323 (15.4 percent). A fourth Democrat, Thomas D. "Tom" Burbank, Jr., son of Thomas D. Burbank Sr., the former head of the Louisiana State Police, trailed with 118,230 votes (8.6 percent). No Republican filed for the open position. There was also a separate ballot line with similar results for the unexpired portion of Parker's remaining term. Parker had resigned on January 1, 1987, with a year remaining in her last term.[7] Having trailed by twelve points in the primary, Reilly decided not to contest a runoff election, and Landrieu won the treasurer's position by default.[8]​ ​


Dee Dee Reilly was born Ann Lamar Switzer in Coronado, California, to Wendell Grey and Anna Lamar Switzer. In 1902, her maternal grandfather, Charles W. Lamar, Sr., founded Lamar Advertising, originally in Pensacola, Florida, as a part-time operation.[9] Her father was a career Navy officer, and she lived in various places throughout the United States. She graduated from St. Agnes Preparatory School in Alexandria, Virginia, and attended Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.​

When her husband served in the state House, Dee Dee Reilly was a leader of Louisiana Legislative Wives Club. She was a founding member of the LSU Speech and Hearing Clinic. She published two children's books, Tibby (1997) and Teaching Agnes to Dance (1999). The couple had four children: Kevin, Jr., Wendell, Sean, and Anna.[4]


Active in community affairs, Reilly was a chairman of the boards of Our Lady of the Lake Hospital Foundation, Volunteers of America, the Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation and the National Volunteers of America. He served as the president of the Baton Rouge Cancer Society and chairman of the Capital Area United Givers. He served on the boards of the National D-Day Museum, Our Lady of the Lake Foundation, Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, Enterprise Corporation of the Delta, and the Interstate Highway Sign Corp.[4]

Reilly was active in the O'Brien House, an organization established in 1971 to assist those attempting to conquer narcotics and alcohol dependence. He donated $100,000 toward the construction of a new O'Brien House facility: "We were being 'nickeled and dimed' to death with the old building. ... Many of these people don't have alternatives. It is in our own benefit and that of the community as a whole to help them rebuild their lives and to become productive." He was also active in the Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation, Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation, and Louisiana Resource Center for Educators.[2]

The Reilly sponsored the renovation of Swine Palace, one of the oldest campus buildings and home to the LSU Performing Arts. To the LSU School of Music they donated a new organ recital and teaching pavilion. They established the Jetson Chair of Public Policy at Southern University, the historically black institution in Baton Rouge. The couple also created the Reilly Family Foundation.[4]

Although a Democrat, Reilly donated to the campaigns of Republicans John McCain for U.S. President and successful Republican congressional candidates Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge and Steve Scalise of Jefferson Parish. Like his son, he also supported Harry Reid, the liberal Senate Democratic Leader prior to Chuck Schumer.[10]

Death and legacy

​ Reilly died at the age of eighty-four at his Baton Rouge home from a long-term affliction with Parkinson's disease. In addition to his wife and children, he was survived by a sister, Elizabeth R. Moynihan of Princeton, New Jersey, and a brother, Gene Reilly, of West Newburyport, Massachusetts. He was predeceased by his second brother, Brendan Reilly. His memorial service was held on November 8, 2012 at the City Club of Baton Rouge.[2]

In 2002, Reilly and his wife received honorary doctorates from LSU his adopted alma mater. In 2006, his children established the Kevin P. Reilly, Sr. Chair in Political Communication at LSU's School of Mass Communication. The couple endowed the Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs, the only such institute in the United States to focus primarily upon the study of media and public affairs.[2]

On Reilly's death, Dudley W. Coates, a former officer of Howard Weil Labouisse Friedrichs, Inc., an energy investment firm domilciled in Baton Rouge, and a former Lamar Advertising board member, called his friend, "Mr. Baton Rouge," explaining: "I don't know of a person or a family that’s poured more into Baton Rouge than the Reillys. He was an outstanding business leader. He was an outstanding legislator."[11]

The Reverend Raymond A. Jetson, and African-American minister and a former state legislator, said that Reilly had "the most generous spirit of anyone that I’ve known. He used the resources that he had to make a difference in the lives of people."[11] In 2007, Reilly was honored as a "Living Legend" by Louisiana Public Broadcasting.[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Membership of the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812–2012. Retrieved on July 12, 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Kevin P. Reilly, Sr., obituary. The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved on October 29, 2012.
  3. Stephen Donahue (April 12, 2008). City of Pittsburgh has one hell of an opponent in Lamar Advertising. Retrieved on October 9, 2019.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Kevin and Dee Dee Reilly receive honorary degrees from LSU. Retrieved on March 13, 2010.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ron Gomez, My Name Is Ron, And I'm a Recovering Legislator: Memoirs of a Louisiana State Representative (Lafayette, Louisiana: Zemog Publishers, 2000), ISBN 0-9700156-0-7, p. 162.
  6. Gomez, pp. 162–163.
  7. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 24, 1987.
  8. Minden Press-Herald, October 28, 1987, p. 1.
  9. Company History. Retrieved on March 15, 2010.
  10. Kevin Reilly political campaign contributions. Retrieved on March 13, 2010.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Reilly, longtime legislator, dies at 84. Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. Retrieved on October 29, 2012.