Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Alumni Obituaries

Leonard Francis Riley

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.