Ralph Riley Jr. “Gooch” passed away December 6, 2020. He and his twin sister, Fannie Rose, who was stillborn, were born on July 12, 1925 in Bell City, Missouri to Ralph Riley Sr. and Myrtle Mae Jennings Riley, joining sister, Gonda, and brothers, Carl and Donald “Cotton”. When Ralph was three years old the family moved to Richfield, Idaho, traveling by train from St. Louis, Missouri to Shoshone Idaho.
Ralph attended school in Richfield, graduating high school in 1943. While attending school, he met Venna King and the two married on November 28, 1943, a union of 77 years.
1944 saw Ralph joining the Navy. After training at Farragut in North Idaho, Ralph served on the U.S.S. New Mexico in the South Pacific where his ship was hit two different times by Japanese suicide planes.
Upon his return to Idaho, Ralph and Venna purchased 80 acres and he began his career in farming. They were blessed with five children: Patrick James, Linda, Kathleen, Rodney Ralph, and Joanne. Ralph farmed, raised hogs and cattle, and milked cows. He said he was happiest working with his animals and farming the land.
During these busy times, he made time to serve on the Lincoln County Highway Board, the Big Wood Canal Company Board, and Richfield School Board. He confessed that his position on the School Board allowed him to keep an eye on his children. He attended the meetings with a bit of consternation at the mention of mischief, hoping his children would not be a part of it, but sometimes (often) they were. He took great pride in his kids and their accomplishments.
Ralph worked for six years as a Cowboy for the Camas Cattlemen’s Association north of Fairfield, Idaho. His grandchildren would often get to visit Grandpa and Grandma at the cabin in Fairfield, riding horses, fishing, swimming, and getting to be in the mountains. Ralph rode ditch for the Big Wood Canal Company for eight years. It was a treat again for the grandkids to join him and Grandma at “the forks”.
Ralph took great pride in his grandchildren and enjoyed watching them in their activities. Ralph and Venna were number one fans for basketball, football, rodeo, 4-H, FFA, theater—whatever interest they pursued, he was an encouragement and support.
Ralph was preceded in death by his parents; Myrtle Mae Jennings and Ralph Riley Sr.; sister, Gonda (Charles) Sluder; brothers, Carl (Nell) Riley and Donald “Cotton” (Nina) Riley; son, Patrick James (Laura) Riley; grandson, Matt Jaynes and many in-laws and friends. It wouldn’t be a complete story to leave out his best friend, Harold Pridmore, who also preceded him in death.
He is survived by his wife, Venna; daughter, Linda (Charlie) Jaynes; daughter, Kathleen (Gail) Loynd; son, Rodney Ralph (Kate) Riley; daughter, Joanne (Stan) Duffin; numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren; and nieces and nephews.
This summer Ralph decided to write a letter to his family. To truly appreciate this, you have to know that it was “hunt and peck” with arthritic hands on an antique typewriter. We don’t know how many days he labored on this project. He includes how proud he was of his children in their talents and the families they raised, and all the hard work they did on the farm. He includes his wife, Venna, and thanks her for all her help on the farm and raising their family, He includes Pat and how bad he felt learning of his death. Likewise, but not a part of the letter, was his pain upon hearing the news about Matt.
The family would like to thank all Ralph’s friends and the community for their support and concern. Over the years they answered the call many times as he needed help working livestock or moving cattle, working fields, driving trucks and assisting with any number of things. The family thanks Auburn Crest Hospice for their respectful care of Ralph and assistance to his family in the last days of his life.
Ralph concludes his letter to the family: “I’m about typed out, got to stop. Lots more to say. I love you all very much. Very proud of you. When I die don’t grieve, just say I am lucky.”
Due to the COVID pandemic, service is not scheduled at this time. Ralph would not have wanted to put family and friends in jeopardy by having you all travel for his service.
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