On Jan. 2, 2013, Michael James Riley of Klamath Falls, Ore., passed away the way he wanted to go - he was hunting in one of his favorite hunting spots near lower Klamath Lake, preparing for a hunt with his precious hunting dog and life companion Derby "The Derbacious" and awaiting the arrival of a close hunting friend when he collapsed and died.
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A passionate lifetime hunter, Mike was a member of the "Church of the Latter Day Mallardists" and stated throughout his life that he would rather be out hunting in the out doors, thinking about God, than sitting in church thinking about hunting.
Mike was born Oct. 28, 1957, to Lois and Jim Riley in Stockton, Calif.
He is survived by Libby Whitis, his devoted wife and best friend of 23 years, and son Louis James Riley, 22; his loving sister and brother-in-law Patti and Ken Veitch; a brother Brian Riley; 11 nieces and nephews; five grandnieces and grandnephews; and extremely close brother-like family friends Karl Wahler, Mike Morrell, Dean Hodges, Kenny Moore, Steve and Dave Ferarrio, Matt Thompson, Dick Bolcerek, Roger Brewer, Mark Imhoff, Will Baer, and Mark Hennelly. Additionally, Mike had several "adopted" sons, including Luke Pfost, Corbin Boccard, Matt Brimmer, Jared Nanneman and Rob Jewett.
Mike graduated from Lincoln High School in Stockton and then Chico State University in Chico, Calif., as a member of the Phi Tau Fraternity, where he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration. Mike had a 30-year career in finance and business, serving as a stockbroker with major brokerage firms until he established his own investment and financial advising business in 1999. He served in the banking industry for several years with Wells Fargo Bank, where he was awarded the WF California Outstanding Small Business Banker Award, and also First Interstate Bank.
Mike and his family lived in Sacramento, Calif., until 2004 when they moved to Klamath Falls, Ore., Mike's "dream" place to live since he was in high school. Mike and Libby bought and established the "Lucky Duck Farm" and raised organic alfalfa.
He was a life member of the National Rifle Association, California Waterfowl Association, Ducks Unlimited, Oregon Hunter's Associate, and Delta Waterfowl, and a member of Cal OR Wetland and Wildlife Council. He served on the CWA board as the director of finance and active fundraiser for all of the organizations, and was active in Klamath Falls in water use/rights debates. He was active in refuge management, and CWA "Wood Duck" box projects.
Mike made a difference in the lives of those who knew him. He was known for being "irritatingly right" about controversial issues, a champion of fairness and honesty and living life to the fullest. He was forgiving and loving in nature and never held a grudge. He was helpful to strangers without hesitation whenever he discovered someone in need. On the Refuge Forum website as of Jan. 5, 2013, 6,200, people had read/viewed "Mike Riley RIP My Very Good Friend," providing stories of humor and memories about Mike.
In lieu of flowers, the Riley family requests donations to organizations advocating Mike's passions: mentoring future hunters - Junior Hunts - through the California Waterfowl Youth Program. Additionally, several activities of recognition are in process for which donations would be comforting. For detailed information, please contact the respective organizations directly or Matt Brimmer of Klamath Falls and/or Mark Hennelly, Vice President, Legislative Affairs and Public Policy, California Waterfowl, Sacramento, CA, (916) 648-1406 extension 105.
A private memorial to celebrate "The Life of Riley" for immediate family and friends is scheduled for Jan. 19 at the Lucky Duck Farm, Klamath Falls, to be followed by a second open party for all family, friends, clients, and fraternity brothers on Kentucky Derby Day, May 4, in the tradition of Mike and Libby's annual "Derby Day" Parties, again at the Lucky Duck Farm, Klamath Falls.
"The ducks on the western flyway are resting better tonight knowing Michael J. Riley has moved on to celestial refuges for his hunts."
Published in Herald And News on Jan. 13, 2013