Joan M. Reilly (nee Mattis), age 86, formerly of North Wales, PA and Ocean City, NJ, died on Tuesday, August 6, 2019 of complications from Alzheimer’s Disease at the Quadrangle in Haverford, PA, where she had lived since 2009.
Born to the late John and Helen Mattis in Philadelphia, she attended Holy Child and St. Mary’s Academy. She earned a degree from the School of Nursing at Misericordia Hospital in 1954. In the late 1960’s, she received her bachelor’s degree from West Chester University. She continued her nursing education and became one of the first nurse practitioners in the Montgomery county area and later completed a master’s degree in nursing at Rutgers University.
Joan began her career at Merck, Sharpe & Dohme Pharmaceuticals as a visiting nurse. While at Merck, she met James Reilly, Jr., a production planner and college football official. The two were married in 1959.
From the early 1970’s until the mid-1980’s, Joan served as the head nurse in several elementary and middle schools in the North Penn School District. She later was appointed Chief of Nursing for the entire North Penn School District, at a time when nurse practitioners were becoming a more valuable and essential part of health care. In her leadership role, Joan helped expand healthcare services to high school students including annual physicals and sports medicine coverage at athletic events.
“She was a pioneer in many ways throughout her nursing career – especially as a nurse practitioner in the public-school system”, said her son Jim Reilly III. “She was an advocate for kids. In 1994, she was credited with spearheading the first free-breakfast program for North Penn high school students which was proven to increase academic performance”.
“She was the kindest person you’ll ever meet, and her natural positivity always made everyone around her feel better” said her daughter-in-law, Renee Reilly.
Joan was devoted to her family. She and her twin, Jean O’Hara, who also earned a degree in nursing from Misericordia Hospital, were not only sisters, but best friends throughout life.
She was an avid athlete and enjoyed skiing, running and golf. Never one to ever slow down, during her summer breaks in mid-1980’s she was the nurse supervisor for the Beach Patrol in Ocean City, NJ.
“Because of her unrelenting work ethic and devotion to everything she was involved in, she undoubtedly leaves the world in a better place than she found it” her family wrote in an appreciation.
She was predeceased by her husband James Reilly, Jr and brother, John Mattis.
Besides her son, Jim, she is survived by her sister Jean O’Hara (the late Frank O’Hara); daughter-in-law Renee Reilly (nee Sarkisian); two grandchildren – Kelan and Braden and nine nieces and nephews.
Relatives and friends are invited to her Visitation Saturday, August 10, 2019 from 9:30 AM – 10:20 AM at St. Rose of Lima, 424 South Main St., North Wales, PA followed by her Funeral Mass at 10:30 AM. Interment is private.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Foundation act.alz.org
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