Date of death: 3/31/2017
Saint Meinrad Class: O 1955
Leonard Francis Riley passed away peacefully at Brookdale Nile Mile Care Facility in Spokane, Friday morning, March 31, 2017 with family at his side. “Riley”, as everyone called him, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana July 17, 1929, the second of seven children to Leonard F. Riley and Izona Marie Whitton Riley. Growing up in the working class, predominately Irish Catholic St. Joseph’s Parish instilled in Riley deep values of family, faith and hard work which he held sacred his entire life. He and his siblings not only shared assigned household duties but also two of the three-bedrooms in that small house. At the age of eight Riley started working after school at the local market for pennies and food stamps which he shared with his family; saving just enough for an occasional candy bar for himself. His part-time job lasted through his high school years at St. Meinard Seminary then at Cathedral High in Indianapolis. He graduated from Cathedral in 1947 and joined the US Air Force. His first assignment took him to Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane. In 1955 while working at The Air Reserve Center at Fort George Wright Riley met his bride-to-be, Evelyn Murphy at a friend’s birthday party. Family lore says the fact that they were the only two single persons there was not a coincidence. They married on July 14, 1956 and from that day forward became known to family and friends as “Ev and Riley” a union that would last nearly sixty years. Ev and Riley were blessed with three children, Teri in 1957, Tom in 1958 and Lori in 1961. In 1959 they moved to 2925 W. Houston creating a home which for the next 57 years served as the center of family life and activity. It was a home of love and caring, open to everyone from close and extended relatives to friends, neighbors and sometimes even strangers in need. In 1958 Riley joined his brother-in-law, Ray Harper, as a partner in Garland-Harper, a home decorating company. He ran the company with Ray for 26 years. During this period, he completed twenty years of active and reserve duty in the Air Force retiring as a Captain. He also attended night school at Washington State Extension for nearly 18 years earning a bachelor’s degree. In 1991 he joined his son, Tom, at Wallflowers, another home decorating company managing their accounting until 2014. He completed his career as a credit specialist for Acra-Net under his longtime friend, Nick Warrick. Riley enjoyed golf and was a lifelong Gonzaga University basketball booster from its pre-1999 dark ages to its current NCAA tournament run. But his true passion was running. Starting in his forties he ran nearly daily, alone or with partners meticulously recording every mile. In some forty years of running he had logged enough miles to encircle the world one and a half times. One of Riley and Ev’s favorite get-aways was their lake cabin on Twin Lakes in Ferry County, Washington. Many a summer’s weekend was spent with children and grandchildren at “the Lake”. The cabin was his pride and joy. One could always find Riley attending to some task, mowing the pinecone lawn or fixing the deck. In later years the cabin became a special retreat for Ev and Riley where they could cherish together the peace and quiet of that secluded place. Leonard Francis Riley was first and foremost “father, grandfather and great-grandfather” attending everything from first communions and father/daughter dances to cross country meets, baseball and basketball games; graduations and weddings. With each event he re-enforced in all that value of family and loyalty for the next generations. Riley was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Ev, who passed away last summer. Also preceding him in death are his siblings, Betty, Robert, Richard, Ruth and recently his brother-in-law Ray Harper. He is survived by his sister Mary, his brother Mike, his sister-in-law Bernice Harper; his children: Teri McCandless (Mac), Tom Riley (Tina), Lori Nelson (Dave); 11 grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and a tight-knit extended family stretching from Washington State to Florida and from California to Indiana.