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Samuel N. Riley
Born: May 27, 1917 Died: May 3, 1998
Recognized as a Legend of Port Norris on December 2, 2012
By Linda (Riley) Keller
Our father Samuel Riley was one of those people. He was born on May 27, 1917 and died on May 3, 1998. But these dates are not what is important. What Dad did between those two dates is what made him the man he was and anyone that knew Dad knew he was a humble man of honesty, integrity and principles.
Dad was the son of James A and Florence E (Chain) Riley. He grew up in Haleyville and went to school there. He had red hair and freckles and loved an good joke, especially when he perpetrated it on someone else. I guess you could say he was just plain ornery. He was not pretentious or slothful, having had to help his widowed mother from an early age along with Conservation Corps in the early 30’s and met his wife Mary in 1935. They married on July 10, 1939 and were blessed with 3 children in the years to come. My sister Sylvia, my brother, Jim and myself and later 6 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.
Dad was always involved in some aspect of community life. He pitched for the Port Norris Oyster League, was a Boy Scout leader and joined the First United Methodist Church of Port Norris. He taught Sunday School for a number of years and served on various committees and the Administrative Board there. When work needed to be done, Dad was always available and he always went the extra mile.
Dad had various jobs during his lifetime. He worked for Dorchester Ship Yard, Leone Industries, and Airwork Corporation. Dad was also Post Man for many years, which brings me to a recollection that my brother had of Dad.
He writes, I don’t remember Dad ever sitting me down for a you could feel it. He had not gotten the position. He had done well on the exam and probably would have gotten the job but someone had claimed “Disabled Veterans” preference, ..... which they were within their rights to do.
By doing that the Veteran got the job. I didn’t understand the system at the time and I was very bitter about the whole situation. I would have done anything to change things and get Dad that job. But Dad never missed a beat as far as I could see. He didn’t go around complaining and feeling sorry for himself or wining about bow unfair it was. Instead he just sucked it up and went on with his and our lives. I think that was a great life lesson. Just one of the many He taught me through his life and his example. Our family was truly blessed.
I believe that Sylvia and I will concur that our family was truly blessed by Dad and Mom’s example as will their grandchildren. Unfortunately his great grandchildren didn’t get to know him but he was still proud of all of his children.
Dad was elected to the Township Committee in 1963 and served as Mayor from 1964 to 1968. He served willingly and honestly. But Dad’s best moment was when as a young man, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He took this decision very seriously and lived his life accordingly. He loved his wife and his children. He worked hard and worked many long hours to provide for us. He set a good example. When we hurt, he hurt. When we laughed, he laughed, (most of the time) and when we cried ..... well..... (we probably deserved it.)
Dad lived 79 years and a some days short of his 80th birthday. He packed as much happiness and love in those 79 years and 3 days as was humanly possible. Did he have it easy? Far from it but he knew that his Lord would provide for him and he held fast to that promise. As I said in the beginning, Dad was a humble man of honesty, integrity and principles and he did not compromise. He loved us and we love him still, but when you leave the legacy Dad left what else can be said?
Sam in his dress uniform for the National Guard, 1936
At Camp, 1936
At Camp, 1936
1962, Henry Taylor, Jack Pancos, Sam Riley - Mayor, Charles O. Moore
1962, Henry Taylor, Donald "Ducky" Taylor, Sam Riley - Mayor, Charles O. Moore, Jack Pancos (order uncertain)
Back Row far right Donald "Ducky" Taylor
Front Row, Sam Riley Left, middle ?, far right Fenton Anderson
Sam and Mary Riley 1980
Family of 20th Century Legend Samuel N. Riley
December 2, 2012