Dr. Joseph John Riley
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Dr. Joseph John Riley

Dr. Joseph John Riley, who for more than a half century provided family medical care to multiple generations, and whose vision and persistence helped bring a medical school to South Jersey, died at his home in Greenwich, New Jersey, Thursday December 10th with his wife, Judith Ann Riley at his side. He was 87.

Riley was born September 2, 1933 in Philadelphia, PA, the son of John Joseph and Elizabeth Frances (O'Neill) Riley. Growing up in Irish Catholic Northeast Philadelphia, he was a city high jump champion at Northeast Catholic High School. He enlisted and served active duty in the United States Army in 1952 and was in the Army Reserves until 1956. Riley earned a B.A. from LaSalle College in 1958 and graduated from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1962. It was during this time period in Philadelphia that he was visiting a friend in a hospital polio ward, when by fate, he met and fell in love with a nurse named Judith Lynch. They married in 1958.

In 1965, as a young physician looking for a community where he could make a difference and raise his growing family, Dr. Riley started a medical practice in Bridgeton, New Jersey where, over the next 50 years, he would be the favorite family doctor to thousands of families. He brought countless babies into the world, often in collaboration with his wife Judith, a Certified Nurse Midwife. Over the years, he built his practice with partners Dr. Frank Kohler, Dr. Joseph P. Riley, Dr. Joseph Ordille, Ann Riley-Spoltore CNM and Mrs. Riley. The practice lives on today in the hands of Dr. Ordille and Dr. Judith Riley-Lowe.

Not long after his arrival in Bridgeton, Riley took an active role in Cumberland County politics and regional leadership. He was elected to the County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 1969 and served as the Democratic party chairman. He was appointed by New Jersey Governor Brendan T. Byrne as a Commissioner for the Delaware River and Bay Authority where he served 8 years as Secretary. Riley served as a member of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) Board of Trustees from 1975 to 1982 and a Professor of Family Medicine from 1977 until his retirement. He also served as a Trustee of Cumberland County College.

Dr. Riley's most enduring professional legacy is the establishment of a medical school in South Jersey. He was a strong believer that in order for a community to thrive, high quality healthcare was vital. Along with state Senator Joseph Maressa and Dr. Howard Levine, Riley waged a persistent years-long effort that, in 1976, resulted in the UMDNJ - School of Osteopathic Medicine (now the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine). In 2011 SOM awarded him the Medal of Excellence "in recognition of his vision and leadership" in the creation of the medical school.

Riley would tell you his greatest legacy is his remarkable family - the love of his life, Judy, 11 children, 28 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. For more than 40 years, the family homestead, affectionately known as Failte Farm in Greenwich, has been the gathering place and joyous heart of his family life. He reveled in challenging the intellectual curiosities of his adult offspring as well as horsing around with the youngest toddlers.

He is predeceased by his parents and his grandson, Jacob Riley-Wasserman.

He is survived by his wife, Judith Ann Riley (nee Lynch). His children: Elizabeth Riley-Wasserman (Keith) of Bridgeton, NJ; Celeste Riley (Richard Dawson) Bridgeton, NJ; Ann Riley-Spoltore of Cape May, NJ; Joseph Patrick Riley (Lorre Allen) of Sisseton, SD; Mary Ordille (Joseph) of Hopewell, NJ; Christina Riley of Greenwich, NJ; Cathleen Kalina (John) of Delran, NJ; Timothy Riley (Carolina Coello) of DE; Cornelius "Neil" Riley (Roseanne) of Greenwich, NJ; Judith Riley-Lowe (Jeffrey) of Bridgeton, NJ; Patrick Riley (Erin) of Elmer, NJ. He is also survived by his sister, Barbara Riley of Santa Monica, CA and nieces Karen Kalbfell Hoffmann of Raleigh, NC and Lisa Mathews of Redding CA.

His 27 grandchildren include, Aharon (Joanna Rosholm) and Isaac Wasserman; Megan Bifulco (Gennaro) and Catherine Kennedy (Samuel Reising); David Spoltore (Tiffany) and Sarah Kelleher (Marc); Quinn and Lyon Allen-Riley; Daniel, Michael, Joseph and Casey Ordille and Allyson Higinbotham (Alec); Cassidy, Carly, Caroline and Cole Clay; John and Benjamin Kalina; Aidan Riley; Colin, Ethan and Evelyn Lowe; Gavin, Liam and Clare Riley. His 10 great-grandchildren are Aria, Victoria, and Sean Spoltore; Hannah, Sophia, Annabelle and Finn Kelleher; Gennaro III and Charlotte Bifulco; and Josephine Rosholm-Wasserman.

A Funeral Liturgy was celebrated at The Parish of the Holy Cross / St. Teresa of Avila RC Church in Bridgeton and Dr. Riley was laid to rest in a private family ceremony at Overlook Cemetery in Bridgeton.

The family requests that you please remember Joseph with happiness and joy in your own way, as no public services or memorials are scheduled at this time due to the pandemic.

Donations can be made in his honor to: Joseph J. Riley, DO and Judith A. Riley, CNM Merit Award, c/o BHS Guidance Department, 111 N. West Ave., Bridgeton, NJ 08302, Attn: Teri Ott or St. Vincent de Paul Society, Good Shepherd Dining Hall, c/o The Parish of the Holy Cross, 46 Central Ave., Bridgeton, NJ 08302.




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Published in The Daily Journal from Dec. 29 to Dec. 30, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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21 entries
January 10, 2021
Dr Riley had a profound effect on my career. I was in the second class at NJSOM which he helped found. I was very fortunate to spend a 1 month rotation with him and his practice. He showed me what real family medicine is. In addition he and his wife had my wife and I to his house for dinner. Because of him I went into family medicine. He was my role model.
Joseph Rubacky,DO,FAAFP
Student
January 7, 2021
My father, Howard Levine, DO, always said, "without Joe the school wouldn't have started."
All the DO graduates and their patients owe a great deal of gratitude to Joe.
Martin Levine DO
Friend
January 5, 2021
ALL I can say is WOW...SMH, DR RILEY WAS A GREAT MAN whom I’ve ALWAYS admired! He ALWAYZ had kind words to say and seemed SO GENUINE! I KNEW he was GREATNESS not knowing his TESTIMONY! Sending my love and prayers to his family!!!
China Jones
January 3, 2021
I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to the entire family of Dr. Riley. I met him in my years working as a secretary in the Bridgeton hospital radiology department. He was one of the nicest and most compassionate doctor I have ever met. He was loved and respected by many outside his family. What a legacy he leaves us all.
Cathy Pantilione
Acquaintance
January 3, 2021
This gentleman helped his wife bring my son into the world almost 27yrs ago, may God bless the family and keep you covered with his feathers, with sincere prayers and condolences, The family of Gysgt and Mrs. Adrian C Boyd, USMC Retired
Shelley D Scippio Boyd
Acquaintance
January 3, 2021
My husband, David Hunter, our daughters, Myrna & Ada Rivera, and our granddaughter, Aaliyah Custodio, and I, Alma Hunter, want to express our deepest condolences for the loss of your loved one. We will never forget Dr. Joseph Riley for the caring and compassionate way he treated us as his patients. He took the time to listen to our ailments and provided the right medical regimen to make us all feel better. In addition to the excellent care we received, he always had a few jokes to share that brightened our day.

With our deepest sympathy, David & Alma Hunter & family
Alma & David Hunter
Acquaintance
January 2, 2021
Such a great Doctor and always listened. He was such a good listener. I remember having bad anxiety and he would tell me that I have a long life and I’ll be ok. After he retired I started to see his daughter. She has that same compassion. His other daughter delivered my boys. Such a beautiful soul. I’ll miss you Dr Riley. Thank you for all the years of taking care of me.
Jennifer Spigelmyer
Acquaintance
January 2, 2021
Such a great Doctor and always listened. He was such a good listener. I remember having bad anxiety and he would tell me that I have a long life and I’ll be ok. After he retired I started to see his daughter. She has that same compassion. His other daughter delivered my boys. Such a beautiful soul. I’ll miss you Dr Riley. Thank you for all the years of taking care of me.
Jennifer
Acquaintance
December 31, 2020
I had the pleasure of working with Dr Riley at Bridgeton Hospital delivering his patient’s babies & caring for his newborns. He had a great sense of humor & would tease the new nurses with great delight. He was a great physician, a wonderful co-worker and a sweet friend. He will be missed by many. God speed!!
Susan Doabler Widjeskog
Coworker
December 31, 2020
So so sorry to hear about Dr Riley.....I was patient for many years I remember one day I had an appt and when I went in his office he had on a shiny shiny new pair of shoes. So I ask him about his shoes and he told me that his wife was making him take dancing lessons cause one of the kids was getting married .. We laughed and laughed....
NANCY
December 31, 2020
I am so sorry for your loss. My condolences to the family
Melicia Parker ( Pettit)
Friend
December 31, 2020
Dr. Riley was the best doctor around! He was a very kind, patient man. Sorry to hear of his passing.
Dawn Sahms
Acquaintance
December 30, 2020
One of the nicest Doctors I have ever know. He was a gentle soul. Condolences to his family.
Sandra Satterfield
Acquaintance
December 30, 2020
I would like to send my condolences to the family of the late Dr. Riley keeping you all in my prayers
Brooke Butler
Friend
December 30, 2020
So sorry he was my dr he was all I new his wife n daughter Wer my mid wife I new this family my whole life I’m n tears writing this his family came to my son furneral I’m so sorry to hear this love y’all
Cornelia delvalle
Friend
December 30, 2020
Faithful Blessings Bouquet - VASE INCLUDED
Send Flowers and Gifts
Sympathy Gift courtesy of
Steve Pipitone
December 30, 2020
my condolences to your family
sharon williams
Friend
December 30, 2020
Dr. Joe Riley was a Cumberland County LEGEND in MEDICINE, GOVERNMENT. COMMUNITY SERVICE. and helping those in need. A ROLE MODEL for FAITH and LOVE of FAMILY. He was a mentor to me in my public career. Dr. Edward H. Salmon
Dr. Edward H. Salmon
December 30, 2020
We send our condolences to Neil and the rest of the family. Joe and NANCY Sayre
Nancy Sayre
Friend
December 30, 2020
What a life so very well lived! Such an outstanding legacy!
May beautiful memories allow your hearts to smile again soon.
Sincere condolences, prayers and love,
MELISSA GOLDSBOROUGH
Friend
December 30, 2020
I,Carolyn Hayes-Hoover...remembers Dr. Riley well....since I was 16...now 72..he helped me bring my daughter into this world,on 7/7/1969....he was my children's doctor for many years....in the 90's I returned to his office...felt like family..with his daughter Dr. Riley -Lowe...he shared the birth of my daughter with is son...which brought a smile to his face..my daughter was in her 40's..at the time..I have many memories of Dr. Riley over the years..He will be missed.
Carolyn Hayes-Hoover
Friend
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