Riley Leaves Indelible Impression

By: Stan Torgerson
By: Stan Torgerson

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Mayor John Robert Smith said for the people of Meridian to understand the Riley brothers, they must know the pair did not create a foundation for any personal glorification.

"They did it because they loved Meridian and they also did it because it was fun. He (Dr. Richard Riley) told me it was a lot easier to give away money than it was to make money and a lot more fun to give it away," Smith said.

Police Chief Benny Dubose says there would be no canine patrol in Meridian without the Rileys.

"There was a point in time when we were desperately in need of a canine handler and a dog. The funds weren't available," said Dubose. "We applied to the Riley Foundation for a grant to purchase the canine and also to train one of our handlers."

The money was forthcoming, as it was also to Homeland Security when Bunky Partridge turned to them.

"Dr. Riley and his brother and the organization helped me build the classrooms that I called on them to do, so they donated money for that. They also donated for our fire tower out there and that was a large sum of money," Partridge said.

The $10 million Riley grant for the downtown education and conference center was already in place when Dr. Harold "Nick" Nichols was named president of the school. He was impressed.

"I thought the plan was really visionary in terms of the revitalization of downtown, in terms of the eventual growth of the campus and in terms of what that may eventually do for the community," said Nichols. "So a really visionary plan. The gift was incredibly generous."

We salute the late Dr. Richard Riley, as well as his brother Dr. Billy Riley. Because of them, Meridian is a better place to live.


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