Obituary: Harold Reilly

Obit-Reilly-SQThe memorial service for Harold Reilly, 24, was expected to draw two crowds to the Woodstock Community Center on December 29.

First were the many peers of the young man who took on the last name of his paternal grandfather, Figureda, in recent years. They’d spent the days since Reilly’s body was found behind the Bank of America the morning of December 19 making video tributes, filling Facebook pages with poetry and photos, occasionally arguing over what leads to fated tragedies involving alienation and addiction. They’d all witnessed how important the neighboring Youth Center’s skateboard park had been to Harold, back in his early teens when his parents would ferry him to such parks throughout the Northeast.

Then there were the adult friends of this young man and his parents, deeply involved in the wider community’s arts and social scenes for years. Plus the parents of Harold’s friends, some caught in his same maelstrom of challenges. And those who had picked up on the way this latest tragedy had swept through Woodstock just before Christmas, gnawing at the place’s sense of itself.


Harold Reilly was born December 14, 1991 in a New York City hospital…a fact the young man felt was important. He moved to the rocky bluestone shelves between Saugerties and Woodstock before starting school in Saugerties, moving on to St. Mary’s of the Snow Elementary, and then Onteora. He would later intern at Milk Media in New York, and list the School of Hard Knocks as his truest alma mater.

Reilly loved moving from his childhood home outside of town into Woodstock as a young teen. He traveled extensively with his parents, both back to their native England, as well as for holidays to Greece, Paris, the Caribbean, and locales more exotic. He was exposed to great art and literature, developed a quiet wit and half-shy smile, a subtle presence.

But he also found himself drawn to Woodstock’s darker side. He loved all things urban, hip-hop, the cutting edge between urban and rural. There were arrests for petty crimes, and later felonies. Shifts from pot and a bit of drink to pills, opiates, and then heroin. Time in and out of prison and rehab, half-way houses and wherever he could feel at home without causing too much trouble or pain. His parents split. Some friends died of overdoses.

On the morning of his death, Reilly was released from Samaritan Village rehab center in Ellenville, part of a multi-million addiction treatment program based in New York City at the forefront of the state’s “alternatives to incarceration” efforts. It’s also been the focus of a 2014 investigation and charges of financial improprieties by state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. He was seen looking strung out at the Woodstock Cumberland Farms, and worse after using the establishment’s bathroom. His lifeless body was found the next morning by Jogger John, and later IDed by his brother Henry.

Some went on Facebook to talk about how they’d been in town that night at Sunflower, at a massive choir event just down the road at St. Gregory’s, a wedding up Meads Mountain, and a variety of holiday parties and restaurants. Other parents with whose children have had drug problems got concerned calls. Much poetry was written.

Later, state police would say that they did not suspect foul play in Reilly’s death, and believed he’d succumbed to an overdose given that there was drug paraphernalia, including a needle, found near his body. Toxicology tests would determine the exact cause of death.

Harold Reilly/Figureda is survived by his brother Henry, his mother Sanchia Playfair, his father Fionn Reilly, and numerous aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, and friends.

“Just send love towards my brother,” Henry Reilly wrote announcing the December 29 memorial service. “Harold was going through a lot of pain and didn’t feel the love that some of us had for him. So let’s just make this about him and nobody else. He needs love, still.”

“Spirits get rattled,” wrote an old friend online. “Cool Kid.”

There are 7 comments

  1. Mary McKeon

    So young and so sad, more so that it is the holidays and each year will be hard on the family. Condolences to all who knew him.

  2. Rachel Sun

    Just love him.
    Yes. Just love him still. And for all of us who mistakenly judged or failed to help him or see him for his light. We owe extra extra love.
    This community as a whole… Owes extra love.

  3. Cathy McNamara

    Thank you Paul Smart…Harold was one in a million! All our sons and daughters are…each so special. Your obituary of Harold Reilly was revealing and just and done lovingly… filled with Harold’s life story, his brother Henry’s and history. The people young and old who loved this young man and feel his unbearable loss are grateful for what you wrote. We are all dealing with the grip of this very hard to escape drug…please let us find an answer to make it end! I love you Harold!

  4. Mary Weisse

    This story is so painful to read.When I was younger I put my family through a living hell.I really believed that this horror was behind us until I read stories like this.Harold was so young with a future and loving family that now have more questions than answers.My heart goes out to all his family & friends.
    We must take a more pro-active view,so we can save our youth like Henry.If anyone needs to talk or wants help just reach out You do not have to be ashamed this is a disease.No one is immune.This is written by a caring person who has walked the path that some of you are on now.You are not alone.Sincerely,Mary Weisse

  5. Peter Barrett

    Hey Paul, you know I’m a fan of your work but I find the second sentence in the sixth paragraph troubling, especially following the phrase “darker side.”

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