As announced last week, here’s the first installment in the weekly Meet the Characters series. Exeter Ledger editor Carl “CJ” Jenkins is interviewing various town residents for a series of profiles in the Ledger and is sharing them with you every Monday. Format for the profiles is lifted from a fairly popular feature in my local newspaper. Also, watch on Thursdays for the About Town series on places in Exeter.
Dan Reilly’s a familiar sight around town as he and the other two-thirds of Reilly and Sons handle most of the small contracting jobs in Exeter. An Exeter native, Reilly was a star running back for Exeter High the year the Eagles won the league title and played in the CMass Division II Super Bowl back in 1996. He also ran track, and you can still catch him down at the Park Street Elementary fields on summer nights playing slow-pitch softball.
We caught up with Reilly while he was repairing the Simmons Shoes storefront downtown, which was damaged when a car went off the road last week and smashed into the building.
Full name: Daniel William Reilly. The William is after my godfather, Uncle Billy, my mom’s brother, who was killed in the line of duty when I was a teenager.
Family: Are you sure you have room for all this? My husband, Chris Kimmett, who’s a music instructor up at the college. My parents, Kevin and Eileen Reilly. I’ve got five sisters: Colleen is older than me, and the others — Bridget, Maggie, Brie and Katie — are younger. My brother Mike’s the baby of the family — he just turned 21. Plus a couple of brothers-in-law and nine nieces and nephews. Oh, and Liz and Evan. You have to go back four generations to the first Reillys in Exeter to figure out how Liz and I are related, but we grew up together and she’s married to my best friend, so she’s like another sister, except mostly less annoying. Mostly. Their kids call me Uncle Dan.
Childhood ambition: I wanted to play for the Patriots when I was really little, even though they were bad then. But mostly I wanted to do what I’m doing now: working with my dad at Reilly and Sons, building and repairing things.
Three most important people in life: Chris, of course. I can only pick two more? I guess Evan and Liz would beat out my parents because I can’t choose just one of each pair. But all five of them are important to me.
List of three things would take if evacuating: A CD of music Chris composed and recorded for me for our first anniversary, my toolbox and a picture of me and Evan at the state track championships senior year. That’s the only important family photo I don’t think my mom has a copy of somewhere.
What would your last meal be? A Fenway Frank and a beer while watching the Sox beat the Yankees for the pennant at Fenway.
What’s in your iPod? All of Chris’ music. Lots of rock, and a bunch of music from when I was in high school — early Green Day, that sort of thing. Chris keeps trying to get me hooked on jazz, but I’m not a big jazz fan. I just like his because he created it.
Dream vacation: Spring training in Fort Myers. Except that Chris would hate it, so we’d probably have to do another vacation to New York to go to a bunch of jazz clubs to even things out.
Idea of hell: Oh, I’ve been there. Everybody treating me like I’ve got the plague. Roughest month of my life.
Best advice you ever got: You’re going to hear this from a couple of other people, because I know Riordan’s told more than just me this: “All that is necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.” I forget who the quote’s from, but I’ve never forgotten it.
Fun Friday night plans: Now that Michelle, Liz and Evan’s oldest, is old enough to watch her sisters for a few hours, the four of us try to go out once a month. Usually dinner, just a chance to catch up. I must be getting old. I used to have something crazier in mind for Friday nights.
Ideal date: It’s like vacations — my ideal is something Chris would hate (and vice versa) which makes it not so ideal. Usually we compromise by heading into Worcester, or sometimes Boston, for dinner, maybe a club where we can dance.
Favorite sport? To play or watch? The Sox are my favorite sport to watch, but football was my favorite to play.
Hobbies/activities: Rec league softball. I like building furniture, but that’s a little too close to what I do for a living to really count.
Favorite season: Winter. The construction part of what we do slows down and I get to do more restoration. And my nieces and nephews like to challenge me to snowball fights.
One thing you would tell your 13-year-old self: The hardest things to do are the ones you need to do.
Person you’d love to have dinner with: Tim Wakefield. He’s been this great workhorse for the Sox for so many years. He never gets the really bright spotlight of the others, but they rely on him for so many things. He’s got to have some great stories to tell about being this unconventional player with that knuckleball.
Coffee or tea: Coffee. It’s on a timer to be ready when I get up. Otherwise I’d probably bash my thumb with a hammer the first five minutes on that day’s job.
Beer or wine: Sam Adams all the way.
Righty or lefty: Righty. Good thing, too. Mike’s a lefty and he has a hell of a time finding some tools designed for leftys.
Introvert or extrovert: Extrovert. Otherwise my family would have driven me crazy growing up.
Beach or mountains: Beach, as long as I have a few gallons of sunscreen.
— CJ Jenkins