Born: New Jersey on 31 October 1948

Passed away: Santa Cruz on 25 March 2015

Aged: 66 years

Service Details

Al wanted to keep things simple . . . always. Just a couple of days before he passed, he and I sat on a bench overlooking Capitola Beach, and I asked how the memorial should go. He said, “very, very small.” Although Al had a fan base that spanned the gymnastic world, the surfer community, and all kinds of beautiful people everywhere, he was a humble guy that never wanted to be the center of attention; so, it was decided– a very small family dinner in LA to drink and laugh and tell our best Al Reilly stories . . . and a site where the many people in his world could connect with pictures, videos, and their very best Al Reilly stories.

The Story

March 25, 2015 was a very sad day for a whole lot of people. It was the day that Al Reilly, age 66, passed away. He was a simple and humble guy, who had an impact beyond words on all those lucky enough to know him. He was an inspirational coach, a soul surfer, a phenomenal father, a sincere friend, and simply - the kindest, gentlest spirit you could ever know.

Al was born in New Jersey on October 31, 1948 to Eugene and Helen Reilly. He was one of six kids, which included: Ed and Russell (“the boys”); Al and Arlene (“the twins”); and Patty and Peggy (“the babies”). The family moved to Tucson, Arizona where Al discovered the pool and competitive diving, and then to Torrance, California in his teens, where Al discovered the ocean and the magic of surfing. Even out of the water, Al was a strong and competitive athlete, and led his gymnastic team at South High, and again, as team captain in college. His inspirational leadership extended to his position as Head Coach at Sunnyvale Gymnastics Club, where he taught and mentored girls for 34 years, shaping their lives in immeasurably positive ways. “Coach” doesn’t begin to describe Al’s role in their lives . . . he has spoken at their weddings, attended their graduations, guided and supported them in and outside of the gym, helping them become, as one gymnast said, “a better version of herself.” One after another, girls have loving claimed him as a “second dad,” as well as their undisputed perennial idol.

And to his daughter, Amber, he has, and always will be, the absolute best person she knows - the very first, and everlasting, love of her life. He helped deliver her at home on the kitchen table, with Bob Dylan playing in the background and the dirty faces of the neighborhood kids pressed against the window screens. And since that moment, every experience she has shared with him has been pure bliss. Amber is the first to say how ridiculously lucky she was to have Al as her father . . . and she is grateful for every single second of it.

Although Al was a quiet and gentle soul, he was resolute about the things he believed in and took a strong stand when it was important to do so. He was a Conscientious Objector during the Vietnam War, when he served as an Army medic. He also defended himself at his own Court Marshall, when he, alone, took a stand on the injustices that were occurring in his unit. Even in the end, when diagnosed with vocal chord cancer, Al was clear about his definition of quality of life and chose a path that was absolutely the right one for him. He lived life positively and fully right up to the very end – going for his coffee and cookie, scoping out the surf spots, exercising, reading, telling stories . . . checkin’ things off his To Do List left and right.

Al did some big things in his life that he was proud of, but he strongly believed that it is the little things you do - every single day - that determines the person you are. And every single day, what an amazing, beautiful person he was. He will be loved and remembered forever.
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Amber, Dedicating this song to you: Paul Simon - Father And Daughter

Cindy Lam O'Leary Realtor shared a video.


Al Reilly lived in a Rainbow where the Pot of Gold was in his heart. "Amber" in his heart sparked the love in all he has touched . . .

Cindy Lam O'Leary Realtor


Don't forget to "register" with the site above first - before writing your message (it doesn't save.) Al Reilly - coach, mentor, and friend. So many great years coaching together as part of Sunnyvale Gymnastics Club - and later as friends in NorCal gymnastics. From 1980-87 we coached the teams in Sunnyvale together and would ride our bikes home after the nights work. 10pm from Sunnyvale to San Jose and Saturday afternoons. The occasional stop along the way for a meal. It was great times when they happened. Never to be forgotten, Al remained a friend whom I could talk to about gymnastics anytime. He was a true friend to all and one of the most dedicated people I have ever known in the sport. A true coach with that being his main goal. After 34 years leading in this field he showed us all the right way to enjoy to the end. I'll miss the occasional talks Al and only wish I had gotten in a few more before now. Everyone should take this opportunity to call an old friend and say "hello". You'll know not when that opportunity may pass you by. Amber - thanks for all you're doing to connect us all.

David Peterson


Both of our daughters learned gymnastics from Al when they were between 3-6 years old. His gentle nature, positive reinforcement, and sense of it all being fun was the best introduction to the sport that they could have. Our oldest daughter went on to successfully compete and now coaches and judges. Al was instrumental in setting her on a path to her passion for the sport. He will be missed. Mary and Mark Belinsky

Mary Belinsky


Al – you taught me a lot about how to survive in this crazy world that has had an amazing long term impact and that I will hand down thru my family for generations. You taught me to ensure I surf, learn philosophy, enjoy music, respect people, introduce friends, but what I would most like to share with everyone reading is how you inadvertently taught me how to survive in the military which later led me to become a Diplomat. Al’s crazy stories, during our drives to and from the beach, of when he was in the military service included hitch hiking, partying, chain of command problems, and philosophy. In large part those stories enabled me to earn the rank of Sergeant in the USMC without any issues. And when I decided to leave the USMC his story as Moses, carrying a thick tree branch through the Vietnam War for defense in lieu of a gun stuck out most –it was time to put my gun in the ground, I couldn’t shoot/carry it anymore. Afterwards, I missed being in service to my country overseas so found a peaceful way to do so as a US Diplomat – because of Al.

michael sc


Al will always live in all that is kind and gentle. Remember him always with laughter and love. Thank you Al for enriching my life.

Mary Mckulle


Tess Pinard shared a video.