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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

REILLY, C. Michael "Mike"

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Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

REILLY, C. Michael "Mike". (Dubuque, IA, Mar. 27, 1942--Dubuque, IA, Oct. 18, 2019). As a student at DUBUQUE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL, Reilly played football and participated in track. In 1960, his senior year, he was named Senior's outstanding male athlete and Iowa's outstanding high school athlete. (1) By the time he graduated, he had won six varsity letters--two each in football, basketball and track.

He specialized in the shot put, discus and football throw during the track season. In 1960 he was first in discus in six of the seven meets he entered and second in the event at the Iowa State Teachers Relays in Cedar Falls. In the football throw in 1960, he scored four firsts and a second in five meets. His best of the season was a toss of 221 feet, seven inches in a triangular meet with East and West Waterloo. He won the district title in the event with a throw of 217 feet, two inches and set a Senior High field record of 213 feet, 11.25 inches in a dual meet with Clinton. At the 1960 Drake Relays, he won the discus, placed second in the football throw, and fifth in the shot put. (2) Reilly was a member of the Mississippi Valley Conference First Team in 1958 and 1959 and in 1959 was a member of the Des Moines Register All State Team. (3) He was inducted into the Dubuque Senior High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.

In 1963 Reilly, a member of the football team at the University of Iowa, made the All Big Ten Team and the Look magazine All American Team. (4) In 1964 he played on the College All Star team and served as co-captain. (5) In April 1970, Riley was named to the second University of Iowa all-time football team where he was known as "The Hammer" for his tackling. The University of Iowa made plans for a charity ball and Mike Reilly Day for his last game as a Hawkeye against Notre Dame. The celebrations and game, however, were cancelled. The day before--Friday, November 22, 1963--President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. (6) Reilly was again selected by fans to the all-time University of Iowa football team as a linebacker in November 1989.

"Mike" Reilly was one of Dubuque's most outstanding athletes.

Reilly was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the fourth round and played professional football with them from 1964 through 1969. (7) He began as backup man to veteran Bill George, all-pro middle linebacker. When George was injured, Reilly had a chance to replace him, but then suffered a broken arm. The following year Dick Butkus joined the team and Reilly became a member of the specialty team which operated during kickoff, punt or field goal situations. (8) He was traded to the Dallas Cowboys and released in 1969. As a free agent, he joined the Minnesota Vikings and played reserve linebacker for one year. Reilly's Vikings won the National Football League title but lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl in January 1970. (9) He announced his retirement from football the same year.

Reilly returned to Dubuque where he had advanced to the management level with FRANK HARDIE ADVERTISING INC. in charge of outdoor operation. (10) He later joined FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF DUBUQUE as a marketing and business development officer and was promoted to senior vice-president of marketing.

Reilly began broadcasting Iowa football with Ron Gonder of WMT in Cedar Rapids in 1971. Gonder was the person who gave Reilly his "Charlie Linebacker" moniker. Gonder explained the nickname came from Reilly's first name Charles and his habit, when frustrated with the Hawks' football performance, of banging his hand on the wall at the back of the booth. In 1996 Reilly had a record of twenty-five years furnishing color commentary for radio broadcasts of University of Iowa football games. (11)

Reilly's activity in the community includes his presidency of the Turf-Boosters Club in the late 1960s and their work to raise $100,000 for a turf system at Dalzell Field. In 1978 he chaired the Recreation and Playground Commission. (12) In 1990 he was the campaign chairman for Mercy's Commitment to Care which raised over $700,000. As a member of the DUBUQUE AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE he led a $150,000 campaign and the "Discover It In Dubuque" effort. In 1990 Reilly was named Outstanding Volunteer Fund-Raiser by the Eastern Iowa Chapter of the National Society of Fund-Raising Executives. (12)

Reilly retired as the branch manager and marketing director of State Central Bank in July, 2004. He is a cousin of Joseph HOERNER, Robert J. "Bob" HOERNER, and Lester J. "Dick" HOERNER.



1. "Dubuque's Reilly Ponders Future," Telegraph Herald, May 26, 1960, p. 9

2. Ibid.

3. Tigges, John. They Came From Dubuque, Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1983, p. 15

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Rezab, Matthew. "Former NFL Player's Wife Can Attest to Alzheimer's Toll," Telegraph Herald, September 5, 2017, p. 2A

7. "Mike Reilly," Pro Football Reference.com. Online: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/R/ReilMi20.htm

8. Lagerstrom, Hal. "Dubuque's Mike Reilly Ends Pro Grid Career After Six NFL Seasons," Telegraph Herald, July 17, 1970, p. 17

9. Tigges, John. p. 15

10. Lagerstrom, Hal.

11. Ibid.

12. Rezab

13. Gilson, Donna, "Two Win Awards for Philanthropy," Telegraph Herald, Telegraph Herald, November 14, 1990, p. 2