Walter G. Riley Obituary

This obituary was submitted by Julia Sterrett.


The Barbour Democrat January 5 or 6, 1940

Walter G. Riley died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Janice Riley Briggs, at Fort Wayne, Indiana, Friday, January 5th, after an illness of several week's duration. He owned and operated a jewelry store in this city for several years, which was located in the rooms occupied by the Modern Beauty Shop now. Approximately 28 years ago, he left here and went to Gary, Indiana, to look over the situation there. After due consideration, he decided to sell his business here and locate there. Gary then was in the making. He built a very good building and opened an up-to-date jewelry store which he operated until a few years when he sold and resigned from the business world.

Mr. Riley was a son of the late Mordecai Dunham Riley and Margaret (Dunham) Riley* and was born and reared in this county. He married Miss Ola Switzer, daughter of Mrs. Minnie and the late C. K. Switzer, of this city, and she died about six years ago.

Funeral services were held at the home of his daughter on Monday at 11 p.m. and the body was taken to Gary, Indiana for interment.

He is survived by his daughter, two grandchildren, one brother, Roscoe Riley of Wellington, Kansas; and two sisters, Mrs. Edna Humphreys, of Granville, Ohio, and Mrs. Flora Knapp**, of Washington, D. C.

*Should read: son of Mordecai Dunham Riley and Annette Hudkins Riley.
**Should read Mrs. Florence Knapp or Mrs. Florie Knapp.


From the Barbour Democrat January 6 or 7, 1940

The sad news comes to me today that W. G. Riley passed away early yesterday morning, January 5, 1940, at his daughter's home in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I feel that I can speak for all his friends, including his boyhood companions, his associates of later years, and all his numerous friends far and near when I say we are deeply bereaved; and with all his loved ones we mourn irreparable loss.

From the time of my earliest childhood recollection, W. G. Riley was a part of my life: we visited in each other's homes, attended the same church, sat together in school, shared the same studies, read and loved the same books, and told each other ideas and dreams confided to very few others. How loyal and honorable was this friend, as boy and man! His name is reverently loved by the remaining members of his family and by all his boyhood and manhood friends.

W. G. Riley was strong of soul and held clear-cut convictions as to men and movements; yet, withal, he was quiet, genial, and kindly with a quaint, keen sense of humor that twinkled in his eyes and echoed in the tones of his voice. There was no better friend and companion for intimate hours of conversation. In his business life he was the embodiment of honor and fair-dealing. He built a fine, lucrative business in Gary, Indiana - a business so based upon integrity that the present owner of that enterprise still conducts it under the firm name of W. G. Riley - a name always a synonym of nobility.

"His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him that nature might stand up
And say to all the world, 'This was a man!'"

In each of the summers of 1937-38 I was privileged to spend a part of a day with this loved friend of mine; and I rejoice in the memory of those hours. His spirit, ever young, had grown sunnier and more tolerant; and with all this I had the joy of knowing he had never betrayed a confidence or failed a friend.

Of W. G. Riley, as of an early president of the United States, it was truly be said, "You may turn his soul inside out in search of stain or spot, and your search will be in vain!"

Floyd T. Holden
Baltimore, Maryland
January 6, 1940

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