William Herbert “Bill” Riley was born January 15, 1948 in Kirksville to Thelma Maxine and Herbert Lee “Dick” Riley. He was raised on the farm northwest of Winigan, and lived there until his marriage to Reta Kay McCollum on November 21, 1970. They would have celebrated 50 years of marriage the coming November. He died Saturday, May 30, at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, after suffering a massive hemorrhagic stroke Thursday evening. He is survived by his wife, Reta of the home, a daughter, Scarlett (Jason) Ragas of Novinger, Missouri, a son, William L (Mary Ellen) Riley of Wentzville, Missouri, grandchildren Kevin and Katie Ledford, Jaynie, Sally, and Bart Ragas, Maddox and Julianna Riley. Also surviving are his sisters, Naomi Ruth (Frank) Williams of O’Fallon, Missouri, Sharon (Hubert) Pfeiffer of Winigan, and brother John (Pat) Riley Milo, Iowa, brothers-in-law Glen McCollum and Jesse Buckman, many nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, a daughter Billie Kay Riley, his mother and father-in-law, Edgar and Darlene McCollum, and sister-in-law Janice Buckman.
Bill was always a hard worker, and started young. His father had a heart attack when Bill was about 13 years old, and he and his mother took over the farm chores. After marriage he and Reta lived on her parent’s place southwest of Winigan. He worked for a time at Marvin Reed’s gas station in Winigan, and then for Green City Lumber Company for several years. He built over 100 pole barns back when they were popular. He could build anything, and fix almost anything, too. He built at least 3 new houses, including plumbing and wiring. He and Reta managed and maintained around 80 rental apartments in Kirksville from 1994 to 2015, when they retired. He also did a lot of various kinds of repair for other people in Kirksville, and around the Winigan area.
Bill always had a wood stove in the house for heat. He liked cutting and splitting wood, and sold some firewood the last few years. He bought a bandsaw mill and enjoyed cutting lumber. His last building project was a porch roof on the south side of his house, using cedar posts cut on the farm, and cottonwood lumber from the farm that he sawed himself. He wasn’t demonstrative, but loved his family deeply, especially the grandchildren that he affectionately called “the little varmints”.
Bill accepted the Lord and was baptized in the First Baptist Church of Winigan at about age 12 or 13. He always loved the Lord, and read the Bible daily. He was a member of the Winigan Christian Church for most of his adult life, though he and Reta attended several different churches when they lived near Kirksville.
Services for Bill will be held at 1:30 pm, Wednesday, June 3, 2020, at the Winigan Christian Church. Visitation is scheduled for one hour prior to the service, beginning at 12:30 pm. Burial will follow at the Pickerel Cemetery. Donations are suggested to the Billie Riley Memorial Scholarship or to the Pickerel Cemetery. Ruschmeier Funeral Home in Green City is handling the arrangements.