Opelousas - A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 A.M. on Saturday, June 29, 2013 at St. Landry Catholic Church in Opelousas with Fr. Gary Schexnayder officiating. Burial will follow at Bellevue Memorial Park Mausoleum.
Joseph Stephen Riley, "Joe", 81, native of Arnaudville and long time resident of Opelousas, passed away Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at his home, surrounded by his loving family, after a brief illness. Mr. Riley was known for his friendliness, kind, gentle ways, conviction, patriotism, and a man of faith. He will be missed by his family beyond words.
Mr. Riley is survived by the love of his life, his wife of 61 years, Hazel Stelly Riley; one son, Carl Riley of Lafayette; 5 daughters, Debby Piatt of New Orleans, Janet Richard and husband, Ronald of Opelousas, Leslie Sylvester and husband, Berchman, II of The Woodlands, TX, Charlotte Descant of Opelousas, and Myra LaSavia and husband Jacob of Baton Rouge; 14 grandchildren, Maggie Piatt, Stephanie Riley Barrios, Jennifer Riley Nida, Andrew Riley, Renee Richard, Jonathan Richard, Ross Richard, Ryan Richard, English Sylvester Miller, Berchman Sylvester, III, Michael Descant, Jade Descant, Annalise LaSavia, and Joseph Riley LaSavia; 6 great-grandchildren, Reilly Nida, Scarlett Barrios, Wesley Wyble, Avery Wyble, Zachary Miller, and Adelyn Miller; 2 brothers, Leo Riley and wife, Micky of Casper, WY, Lloyd Riley and wife, Diana of San Antonio, TX; 3 sisters, Betty Olivier and husband, Leland of Arnaudville, Leola Minderhout of Arnaudville, and Cheryl Meche and husband, Ernest of Zachary; and a host of nieces and nephews.
Upon graduation from Leonville High School, Mr. Riley entered the United States Army, with plans to attend college, majoring in electrical engineering. The Korean Conflict broke out, however, and he was shipped out to Japan, postponing his education. Upon returning to The States, he completed a 2 year course at TH Harris Vocational School.
Mr. Riley is a Veteran of the U.S. Army, serving during the Korean Conflict. He spent 9 months and 6 days in Foreign Service. He was part of history being on the front line with the 17th Infantry Regiment when they made it to the Yalu River (Chinese Borders) during the winter of 1950. The 17th Infantry Regiment was also the only unit to make it that far North before the Chinese intervention. They made a hasty retreat to Hungnam, where the Regiment was evacuated by sea before being engulfed by the Chinese. After evacuating, the Regiment continued to fight the North Korean and Chinese up until the end of the war and was one of the most decorated and distinguished units during the Korean War. Private First Class Joseph Riley received an Honorable Discharge from the Army of the United States in October 1952 and awarded 5 Bronze Stars, CIB, UNSM, and the Korean Service Medal.
He then was employed by Bodemuller, the Printer for 18 years, before becoming the owner and operator of The Dairy Queen and The Queens "Little Chef", in Opelousas. He cherished the memories of the many people he met and of serving his customers "happiness", in the form of ice cream.
Mr. Riley was a long time member of The Veteran of Foreign Wars, The American Legion, The 17th Infantry Regiment Association, long time volunteer firefighter for Hope, Hook, and Ladder, and long time member of the Elks Club, where he also volunteered his Cajun Cooking upon retirement.
He was a an avid reader, especially of nonfiction, had passion for history, education, Cajun cooking, listening to music, and above all being surrounded by his beloved wife and family. He had a special gift for relating to children, a gift he passed down to his children.
Mr. Riley was preceded in death by his beloved parents, Stephen and Louise Lanclos Riley, cherished daughter-in-law, Linda Joubert Riley, brothers-in-law, James Minderhout, Frank Lee Stelly, sisters-in-law, Lucy Stelly Fitzgerald, Thelma Stelly Zerangue, and cousin, brother-in-law, long time friend, Edward Lanclos.
Vocalists will be English Sylvester Miller and Annalise LaSavia, accompanied by Richard Sellers. Pallbearers will be grandsons and great- grandsons. Honorary Pallbearer will be great-grandson, Zachary Miller.
Visitation will be observed at Lafond-Ardoin Funeral Home of Opelousas, beginning Friday, June 28, 2013 from 4:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. with a rosary service at 7:00 P.M. led by his sister, Betty Olivier, and will reopen on Saturday, June 29, 2013 from 8:00 A.M. to time of service.
Lafond-Ardoin Funeral Home of Opelousas (2845 S. Union St. Opelousas, LA 70570), (337-942-2638)
Family and friends are invited to sign and view the online guestbook at www.lafondardoin.com.