Remembering Reilly

Early on in my career as a railroad journalist I was very fortunate to interview and get to know some of the short line industry’s best and brightest. Reilly McCarren, chairman and majority owner of the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad, was near the top of that list.I was saddened to hear of Reilly’s passing this week after a battle with cancer. I first met Reilly about 25 years ago, soon after he joined the short line ranks from Conrail. He was both a gentle man and a gentleman and was one of the smartest and most articulate railroaders I’ve ever met.He was always a great interview. I had his phone number handy for those times when I was trying to make sense out of an ICC or STB decision on rail rates or service. He always had a way of cutting through the legalese and getting to the heart of an issue. He also had a knack for projecting the industrywide impact a development could have and often crafted practical suggestions or workarounds to solve an industry problem.Reilly wasn’t just generous with his time in news interviews, he believed in doing what he could to advance his industry. In addition to serving on the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association's Legislative Policy Committee, Reilly was a Central Region board member for seven years and vice chairman of the ASLRRA, a position he continued to hold during his illness. He also served as chairman of the board for Operation Lifesaver and as co-chair of the Railway Industry Working Group.When I heard the news a few days ago that Reilly had passed away, I couldn’t help but think that the industry had lost another one of its brightest lights way too soon. He was only 58.---By Kathy Keeney
Kathy Keeney is Publisher of the Rail Group. The granddaughter of a railroader, she has been writing about railroads for nearly 30 years. She is a past president of The League of Railway Industry Women and served on the board of directors for the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association and for the Washington Chapter of WTS