Friday, March 31, 2017
7:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Van Strien Chapel
1833 Plainfield Ave., N.E
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
The Rosary will be recited.
Saturday, April 1, 2017
11:00 AM EDT
St. Alphonsus Catholic Church
224 Carrier N.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
Life Story / Obituary
Forever young in spirit, Dorothy Riley lived with amazing exuberance. She did not shy away from new technology, she remained physically active, and loved to spend time with her grandchildren. Dorothy was a devoted wife, a loving mother, and a cherished grandmother and friend to all. It is hard to say goodbye to such a kind and full-hearted soul.
The year was 1926, and the decade was still very much in full swing with the notable title, “The Roaring Twenties.” Life was good, and there was plenty of work for the country. Henry Ford announced the 40 hour work week for The Ford Motor Company’s factory workers. And with so many cars in production, it was imperative that the year also completed the famous Route 66 - taking travelers from Chicago, Illinois all the way out west to Los Angeles, California by automobile! The weather was also quite active during this particular year in history. President Calvin Coolidge faced helping his country rebuild after storms of disastrous proportions. As if the Great Miami Hurricane with its category 4 destruction was not enough, the country experienced 27 tornadoes in one season. Thank goodness for the creation of Winnie the Pooh as a comfort to so many children during these and other storms throughout the year and for many still to come.
In the midwest, far from the troubles of hurricanes, Grand Rapids, Michigan was home to Joseph and Mildred (Fenton) Gabrick. On March 3, 1926, this happy couple welcomed their precious daughter to the world. They named her Dorothy Theresa, and she would be the third child to join the family. Before long, four more siblings made their appearance creating a complete family of seven total children.
The Gabrick’s home was located at 31 Matthews Ct. N.E. in Grand Rapids. Her mother stayed home to keep the family organized while her father worked as a foreman in a factory that made fly trap paper. They were not a family of monetary wealth, but they were rich with love and made great childhood memories, as most kids can easily do with the good company of others. Each member of the family had specific jobs to do, and Dorothy claimed to always get stuck with the dishes - and in such a large family, the dishes never ended!
Dorothy attended Palmer Elementary as a young child and swiftly moved on to St. Alphonsus Catholic School. As she matured into a young lady, she attended Creston High School from which she eventually graduated. During her school years, she kept to herself being somewhat shy. She thoroughly enjoyed a good book and would choose to stay home to read rather than go out. She was intelligent and would even refer to herself as “kind of a nerd.” She embraced this part of her personality fully, however, and always stayed true to herself. There were times when she was forced to go out: Her sister, Helen, was not allowed to go out by herself, so sometimes Dorothy’s parents made her go along. On occasion, they would go ice skating among other various activities.
After high school, she found a job working for the A & P store followed by a position in bookkeeping at Michigan National bank. She worked diligently there and ultimately earned a spot as a bank teller.
Before long, Dorothy’s sister had an unforgettable wedding. For Dorothy, it was unforgettable because the Best Man in the ceremony was to be her husband. William Riley was truly the best man, and he was the one with whom Dorothy chose to spend the rest of her days. Another wedding was planned, except for this one, William was to be the groom! They celebrated their love with a wedding ceremony on February 26, 1949.
The newlyweds settled into their new lives together. Over the next 16 years, they joyfully welcomed 8 children into their growing family. The two worked together to create a harmonic home. William worked night shift as a printer for the Grand Rapids Press. As a mother, Dorothy loved to cuddle up with her kids and read books. As time progressed, Dorothy began working at Daane’s on Plainfield which later became Sy’s Market when the store moved, and this is where Dorothy stayed until she retired in 1987. This job suited her well because she enjoyed the opportunities to chat with customers as they checked out.
The Riley’s were very devoted to their Catholic faith. Dorothy made certain that the family attended church every Sunday, and this was easy since they lived directly across the street from St. Alponsus Catholic Church. This home was also the same in which William was born, so it had a great family history.
Dorothy and William did not travel often, but they did sometimes get away. They visited the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Niagara Falls which included their children when they were able to come along. When their children were older, they did make a trip out to Rapid City, South Dakota to visit one of their sons stationed in the Air Force. While they were there, they took in the sights of Mount Rushmore.
After all of their children had grown, there was still plenty to do. The first best part was watching as the gift of grandchildren blessed their lives one by one. Dorothy loved to spend time with them and especially share her love of reading. She was very involved in their lives and volunteered to babysit after she retired. She made a loving impression on them, as they would stop by every day after school to visit with her. She spoiled them with birthday cards each year which were typically stuffed with monetary gifts. She never missed a date because her grandchildren were part of her heart.
When Dorothy was not visiting with her family, she remained very active. On cold, wintry Michigan days, she spent time crocheting. She was very talented in this pastime producing many lovely pieces such as table clothes, doilies, and doll clothes. To keep her mind keen, she loved the challenge of puzzles - especially word searches.
Through many years, Dorothy and William enjoyed one another’s company; however, Dorothy was forced to say her final goodbyes to her lifelong love when he passed away. She endured this difficult time with the support of her family and many friends. She found her spirit for life again after a bit of time, kept her memories of William close, and forged ahead to make life bright again. To do this, she got with the times by purchasing a computer, camera, printer and a connection to the Internet - creating a whole new world of communication! She became adept at taking photos, printing them, and emailing with her brother in Arizona. She also enjoyed caring for cats; she was very fond of “Misty” in particular.
In 2007, Dorothy moved to Villa Maria where she embraced new friendships and cultivated her youth. She participated in a variety of activities which kept her physically active and fit; she loved to line dance with her many friends. Additionally, she participated in the regular mass celebrations by attending but also by doing the readings during the service. She kept current in all the activities by volunteering and helping whenever there was a need; sometimes she would even ride the bus to do light shopping for others at the grocery store.
Her desire to stay youthful even at the age of 91 is inspirational. Dorothy found joy in everyday life and filled her time with an abundant love for others. We will miss her spirit and spunk toward life. The memories we shared with Dorothy will stay close to our hearts, and she will be greatly missed.
RILEY – Mrs. Dorothy Theresa Riley aged 91 of Grand Rapids and a resident at Villa Maria passed away Wednesday March 29, 2017. She was preceded in death by her husband William Riley. Surviving are her children: Louise Stuenkel, Bill and JoAnne Riley, Sandra Riley, Nancy and Jeff Miller, Suzanne Riley, Barbara and Kim Smith, Maria and Mark Van Portfliet, Matthew and Chris Riley; her 11 grandchildren and her great grandchildren, her brother Jim Gabrick and nieces and nephews. Dorothy was a life long member of St. Alphonsus Catholic Church and worked for many years as a cashier at Daane’s Market on Plainfield and Sy’s Market on Leonard St. Mrs. Riley reposes at the Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, Van Strien – Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield N.E. where relatives and friends may meet her family Friday from 6 – 9 P.M. and where a Rosary Service will be held at 7 P.M. Funeral mass will be celebrated Saturday at 11 A.M. at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, 224 Carrier N.E. and where she will repose from 10 A.M. until the time of the funeral mass. Interment will be in Resurrection Cemetery. To read more of Dorothy’s life, share a memory or sign the online register book please visit www.lifestorynet.com