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DOWNEY – Tracy Riley, husband of former Downey mayor Barbara J. Riley and longtime community volunteer whose public service spans nearly 50 years, died last Monday. He was 83.
Known for his humble and affable nature, Riley is being remembered this week as a community advocate and diligent public servant that contributed to more than a dozen local non-profit organizations.
Born in Ashland, Kansas, William “Tracy” Riley attended the University of Oklahoma before joining the Navy and serving in the Philippines as a Seabee. In 1953, while on leave from Manila, Tracy met his wife, Barbara. They were married a year later.
After Tracy completed his military service, the two returned to Downey where they raised three children: Carla, Traci, and David, who died in 1986.
Barbara would go on to become mayor of Downey in 1992, championing the community and senior center, which was named in her honor following her death in 2001.
Together the Rileys devoted much of their lives to public service, donating time and resources to the Assistance League of Downey, Downey Chamber of Commerce, PTA HELPS, Downey First Christian Church, Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, Downey Coordinating Council, and others.
As Tracy began to pull back during retirement, he found a new home at Mambo Grill where he often met with friends and made new ones.
Owner David Llamas says Riley would even occasionally eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at the restaurant.
“He became a part of the family,” Llamas said. “We met seven or eight years ago at the Downey citizens’ police academy and became instant friends. He was a very humble man with a big heart. He loved everybody.”
On Thanksgiving Day, Llamas decided to invite Tracy to his house for dinner.
“We loved having him over, Mr. Riley loved my kids,” Llamas said with a grin. “We had a fun time, he enjoyed life and was admired by so many. He’ll be missed.”
Although Riley’s final years were spent in a retirement home in Whittier, Llamas’ family made the sacrifice to bring Tracy to Downey whenever he asked.
“He would call and say ‘ hey, come get me’ — he’d give me four days heads up,” said Llamas. “I’d have my niece go pick him up, she lives by there, and me or my wife would take him home. Visitors would come by just to visit him.”
Riley was interned at Rose Hills Memorial Park last Friday morning. A memorial service was held immediately after at La Mirada Christian Church for family and friends.
“He’ll always be in my mind,” Llamas said. “If people remember you, you never really die. Everyday we’ll be working, cracking jokes, remembering Mr. Riley.”
Published: May 23, 2013 – Volume 12 – Issue 06