April 01, 2014 | 09:47 AM“He had no hospitality experience, no,” Sarah O’Reilly said. “But he had experience with people. He had a wonderful smile, and he knew how to make people smile.”
O’Reilly’s husband of 17 years, Bernard, died March 8.
B.G., as he was called, was well-known around Lake Geneva for being the executive director at Horticultural Hall.
O’Reilly said B.G. applied for the position at the hall without any real experience in hospitality, but he was hired because he was so personable.
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“He was just a nice guy, a real gentleman,” Bill Thompson, Horticultural Hall board member, said.
“We’ve literally had people calling from around the world about his death,” she said. “He’s really a gentle giant.”
O’Reilly said she met B.G. in 1967. She said they were just friends for many years.
“We were married in 1996,” O’Reilly said.
He was living in Saudi Arabia, she said. They met in London, a halfway spot between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, and they discussed their “options.”
“We dated for eight years, and we were married for 17 years,” O’Reilly said.
B.G. was in Saudi Arabia giving flying lessons.
“He taught flying to princes,” O’Reilly said. “He had a friend over there who told him it was a good deal, so he followed his friend.”
O’Reilly said B.G. was able to travel the world as a pilot.
“His time there really awarded him world travel,” she said. “He was able to fly the world.”
Ron McCormack, a member of the hall’s board, said he was good friends with B.G.
“Everyone loved him,” McCormack said. “He will be greatly missed. He was a very thoughtful person, and we’ll be hard- pressed to replace him.”
B.G. helped coordinate weddings held at the hall, and Thompson said he had a big impact on those weddings.
“We have more than 40 weddings a year here,” Thompson said. “Many brides and grooms have called saying they were so sad to hear about B.G.’s death.”
Thompson said the job required a lot of different skill sets, and “B.G. had them all.”
O’Reilly said B.G. was in remission from cancer for about 10 years.
“But he struggled with the treatment for that cancer,” she said.
O’Reilly said the chemotherapy and other medicine B.G. took for his head and neck cancer affected him negatively.
“You know what that stuff does, all that stuff you put in your body, it’s not good at all,” she said.