(1945 - 2015)
Terry O'Reilly was born in Farnborough, Hampshire, England. He immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of 16. He received an undergraduate degree at Loyola University Los Angeles and a law degree from Boalt Hall at the University of California Berkeley.
Terry began practicing law in 1970, and was one of the most distinguished and successful trial lawyers in the country, not only in the number and magnitude of cases won, but also in the many impressive awards and honors bestowed upon him by his peers. Despite his long career and love of the law, he treasured the stillness of the Wood River Valley, Idaho, and moved there from San Francisco in 2010.
Terry specialized in aviation cases earning large damages for victims of faulty aircraft, but his results in all types of cases earned him numerous awards during his career. In 2003 Terry was named Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Consumer Attorneys of California after catalyzing the recall and ultimately banning the sale of a gel candy he proved to be a choking hazard.
Terry's long-time partner Jim Collins remembered Terry as follows: "I thought he was indestructible. He was an advocate 100 percent of the time. One of the old school." Collins marveled at his partner's ability to argue damages. He laughed remembering an old product liability case. In the suit, Fife v. Bell Helicopter, he sought damages for the widows and daughters of two men who died in a helicopter crash. The Los Angeles Superior Court judge hearing the case granted one hour of argument for each side, Collins said. "Terry was running out of time, and I'm thinking, 'Come on, Terry,'" Collins said. "And he stops, takes his glasses off and wipes them on his tie, and says 'Maybe it's just the Irish in me, but the only thing I can wonder is who will walk these girls down the aisle,' you know, pointing at the little girls. Even the judge had to turn to not cry." The jury verdict of $9.1 million far exceeded the settlement offers Terry declined before the trial.
Terry had a larger-than-life personality that brought joy to many people across many walks of life. His passion for rugby, his love of music, his enthusiasm for classic cars, and his great service as a litigator are just a few of the diverse pursuits that define him. His intelligence, humor, and generosity of spirit were as big as the man himself. He lit up a room whenever he walked into it.