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Farewell to a great ambassador for Lismore

The Lismore community is mourning the loss of William Riley.
The Lismore community is mourning the loss of William Riley. Picasa

BILL was born in Lismore in 1928, the eldest child of Mr and Mrs Claude Riley. He was very proud of his North Lismore heritage and was always a great ambassador for Lismore and the Northern Rivers.

He attended Lismore Public School and, during World War II, Lismore High School. Bill was school captain in 1945 and won the awards for swimming and citizenship in his final year.

Once he finished school, Bill went to work for a Brisbane firm of funeral directors, Cannon and Cripps, as their office boy. He purchased the company 20 years later.

Back in Lismore, as an active member of the Lismore Memorial Amateur Swimming Club, Bill met Shirley Reid, who he married in 1950, and with whom he reared four daughters - Lindy, Sally, Candy and Sarah.

Over the years, Bill purchased funeral firms in Brisbane and Ipswich, after taking over the original family business, William Riley and Son, in 1957, following the death of his father.

Bill's intense pride in his school years prompted him to organise a number of successful Lismore High School reunions - 40, 45 and 50 years after the schoolmates' final year at school.

Bill was a very proud member of the Masonic Lodge fraternity, having completed 50 years membership with Lodge Lismore Temperance, following in the footsteps of his late father Claude and grandfather William.

Bill also served proudly as a member of the Rotary Club of Lismore and was elected club president. In 1961 he was given the privilege of establishing the Rotary Club of Lismore West.

Around the same time, Bill and his close friend, John Crowther, pioneered the move to establish the Lismore Aerodrome at South Lismore that was licensed in 1969.

Bill acquired his licence and flew for 12 years.

As the foundation president of the Lismore Auxiliary of the Guide Dogs Association for the Blind, Bill initiated securing the first guide dog on the North Coast for a fellow North Lismore resident, the late Miss Eileen Hurley.

For some years, Bill was a vice-president of the North Coast National A & I Society, following in the footsteps of his late father, and remained a life member until his death.

As an enthusiastic lifetime supporter of the Australian Country Party, Bill was, for many years, chairman of the Richmond Electorate Council (Hon JD Anthony MHR, Deputy Prime Minister of Australia) as well as chairman of the Lismore Electorate Council (Mr RB Duncan MLA).

For several years, he was also a member of the NSW Central Council of the Australian Country Party.

One of Bill's proudest achievements was reuniting a Chinese family in Hong Kong nine years after the husband had been detained in mainland China.

Bill never gave up the fight until the family was back together in 1979.

Bill's love of horses resulted in him establishing the Arabian Lodge Horse Stud at Wollongbar. He bred, exhibited and judged at many shows, including the Sydney Royal and the New Zealand National Arabian Horse Show.

Bill was the Foundation Chairman of the Federal Arabian Horse Judges Panel.

With the late Dr KG Lawrance, Bill Royce and Norman Simons, Bill was a member of the foundation executive of Kayleena Special School, since expanded in size and function to become the Multitask organisation.

In 1973, Bill was elected a foundation councillor of the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education and a member of its finance committee. He had the enjoyable experience of having two daughters and a son-in-law enrolled simultaneously as students in the early years of the college.

In 1977 Bill and Shirley left Lismore for Tenterfield. Some years later, Shirley's declining health resulted in their move to Queensland, where she died afer a long illness.

In 1993, Bill married Carole Crome and proudly acquired two more daughters, Jennifer and Vicki, as well as five additional grandchildren. Bill lived with Carole on the Gold Coast until his death.

Bill had many friends in many places and he was humble about the help he was able to give them throughout his life.

He never forgot his roots in North Lismore.

Bill Riley will be greatly missed. He is survived by his widow Carole, daughters Lindy, Sally, Candy and Sarah, step-daughters Jennifer and Vicki, a sister Jan, 13 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his first wife Shirley and his only brother, Jack.



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