Jerome Riley Sr.
Dec. 21, 1918-April 4, 2011
Jerome Francis Riley Sr., 92, of Detroit Lakes passed away on April 4, 2011 at Sanford Hospital Palliative Care, in his beloved Fargo, after a brief illness. He was surrounded by his family and died with peace in their care.
Jerome "Jerry" Riley was born to Daniel S. and Eva (Callaghan) Riley on December 21, 1918 in Brooten, Minn. The family then moved to Lidgerwood, N.D., where Jerry graduated from high school in 1936.
He attended St. John's University in St. Cloud for one year and then transferred to the University of North Dakota, graduating with a BS degree in Commerce in 1942. He remained a loyal alum of UND all of his life, and was a lifelong fan of the Fighting Sioux Hockey team.
Upon his graduation, Jerry was commissioned into the Air Force in October of 1942, and served in World War II, on a troop carrier squadron, from May 1943 to October 1945. During his service in the war he was stationed in North Africa, Sicily, England and France. He was discharged as a captain in the Air Force in 1946.
Jerry remained active in the United States Air Force Reserves for 33 years. He served as instructor of Communications, Electronics and Legal Issues. He
also acted as Liaison Officer Coordinator for the United States Air Force Academy to North Dakota. Jerry retired as a Full Colonel from the Air Force Reserves in 1975.
At the completion of World War II, Jerry attended law school at the University of North Dakota, graduating in 1948. He was employed in Fargo as an attorney for the Veterans Administration for 12 Years, and as District Counsel for the Small Business Administration for 25 years, retiring in 1986.
Jerry married Mary Volk on February 4, 1950 in Fargo. The couple had 6 children, and Jerry loved his role as a father.
The family purchased a lake home on Lake Melissa in 1955 and spent many happy years there, raising the family at the lake. He spent many hours in the lake and teaching his children to swim, taking them boating and waterskiing, and taught them all a love for life at the lake. When not at the lake he would often be seen spending time with his children and their friends in Fargo playing hockey, tennis, basketball, and football.
Jerry was always a kid at heart himself. His sense of humor will always be remembered. His jokes and laughter were a constant in the Riley family, and Jerry was often his own best audience!
Jerry's long list of civic activities include the Elks, Lions, PTA, American Legion, Reserve Officers Association of the United States, Knights of Columbus, Toastmasters, Cass County and North Dakota State Bar Association, Civil Air Patrol, Organized North Dakota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, serving as its President for three terms, Young Republicans Association, and was a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity and Phi Alpha Delta-Honorary Law Fraternity.
Jerry and Mary lived for many years in Fargo, and still maintained their lake home on Lake Melissa. For many years, they also had a home in Fort Myers, Fla., where they would often be seen on the golf course. Jerry loved to play tennis as well as ride his bike around the lake, well into his 80s. His other favorite hobby was operating a ham radio, a skill he learned at age 12. He loved talking to his brother Jack and other friends on the airwaves for countless hours.
In 2005, Jerry's health began to fail, with various neurological and physical ailments. The fact that he suddenly bounced back from that fragile time to live another full and happy five years is a source of joy to the family.
Jerry had found a new lease on life and spent many happy hours with his children and grandchildren. At the end of his life, he was surrounded by his wife, grandchildren and children, as he faced his death with great peace and dignity.
He was always known as "Uncle Jerry" to his many friends and family.
Surviving Jerry are his wife of 61 years, Mary; daughter, Cheryl Riley (Spider Johnk); sons, Patrick (Judy) of Grenville, S.D., Kevin (Katie) of Fargo, and Michael (Laurie) of Minneapolis; and his seven grandchildren, Max and Sydney Johnk, Bridget Larson, Danni and Claire Riley, Rex and Luisa Riley; and numerous nephews and nieces.
Preceding him in death were his parents; his sisters, Kathleen Deutsch and Mary Helen Whelan; brothers, Daniel and Jack Riley; and two sons, Dennis and Jerome Riley Jr.
He will be remembered by his many friends, for his laughter and his love of life.
A mass of Christian burial is set for 11 a.m. Monday, April 11 at St. Mary of the Lakes Catholic Church in rural Detroit Lakes. Interment will be in the church cemetery, with Military Rites provided by the Lake Region Veterans Honor Guard.
Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 10 at David-Donehower Funeral Home in Detroit Lakes, with a prayer service following at 4 p.m. The visitation will continue at the church one hour prior to services on Monday.
The David-Donehower Funeral home is honored to be serving the family.
Tributes may be left online at www.daviddonehower.com.