NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – CBS2 is continuing our series honoring the people we’ve lost to the coronavirus pandemic.
CBS2’s Cindy Hsu spoke to the students of a guidance counselor who changed lives and a grandfather whose mission has always been to protect and serve.
Frank O’Reilly’s daughter Jennifer says her dad was always the one by your side in hard times. He was born in Jackson Heights, Queens to Irish immigrant parents. He was in the Army for four years in the military police, then joined the NYPD and served for 20 years.
He loved summer weekends at the Jersey Shore and that’s where he met Mary Ann, they were married and eventually moved from Queens to New City in Rockland County. He spent lots of time with his granddaughters Fiona and Eireann. and taught the oldest to read by showing her the comics in the newspaper.
O’Reilly passed away on April 9th from complications of COVID-19. He was 83. He would often tell his daughter: There are two types of people in the world: Givers and takers. The takers might eat well, but the givers sleep well. He taught her the greatest gift is your time.
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Paula Bremmer earned four Master’s degrees, the last one in creative writing just two years ago.
She was born in New Rochelle, started her career as an elementary school teacher, but really found her passion as a guidance counselor at Careers in Sports High School in the South Bronx. She and her family live in Newburgh, so she commuted two hours every morning to get to work.
Shakira Morris is one of her former students and says she had no plans to go to college, but with Bremmer’s guidance and never-ending encouragement, was offered 17 college scholarships.
Bremmer had pictures of her students all over the place and made everyone feel special and important, baking them cinnamon rolls. She stayed in touch with hundreds of her students well after they graduated, always bringing them back to help encourage the younger kids.
Bremmer passed away from COVID-19 on March 26th at 51 years old. She leaves behind four children and her husband Orane, who says he’s lost his greatest cheerleader and his everything. But Paula’s legacy will live on through her children, the ones at home, and the many she’s launched into the world.
We pay tribute to two strong leaders, whose work continues in the hearts of the countless people they’ve touched.