Dorcas Reilly, Creator of the Classic American Green-Bean Casserole, Dies at 92

Dorcas Reilly, Creator of the Classic American Green-Bean Casserole, Dies at 92


“She took a lot of pride in it,” Mr. Reilly said. “She was delighted when anybody said they liked it, and most everybody liked it.”

In interviews over the years, Mrs. Reilly noted that the casserole’s appeal was in its simplicity. It employed the popular Midwestern technique of using a creamy soup to bind a casserole, but mixed in some new ingredients. It took off when Campbell’s began printing the recipe on its cans of cream of mushroom soup.

Dorcas Lillian Bates was born on July 22, 1926, in Woodbury, N.J. Her mother, Dorcas Lillian Webb, was a homemaker, and her father, Frederick Bates, was an electrician at the Drexel Institute of Technology, now known as Drexel University.

She and her brother, Linwood Tomlinson Bates, grew up in Glassboro, N.J., and Camden. She attended Camden High School, along with Thomas H. Reilly, whom she would marry in 1959.

In a phone interview, Mr. Reilly said Wednesday that he fell in love with her in the fall of 1940, “but it took awhile” to get together. He served in World War II and the Korean War after high school, while she studied home economics at Drexel. After graduation, she went to work at the Campbell’s test kitchen in Camden.

Mr. Reilly said his wife had grown up in a family of cooks, which spurred her love of food. Even after spending all day in a test kitchen, she would cook at home as well, experimenting and using fresh ingredients. She did make a lot of soup, Mr. Reilly said.

The couple settled in Haddonfield, N.J., where Mr. Reilly got a job as a high school English teacher. The couple had one son, Thomas B. Reilly, and a daughter, Dorcas Tarbell.



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