Riley Bartlett "Riley B" Thompson
Riley Bartlett ÒRiley BÓ Thompson of Apple Valley passed away March 18, 2006, from complications of a stroke he suffered a month prior.Riley was born July 3, 1923, in Kansas City, Kan., and moved to the Victor Valley in 1950, several years after his discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps. Riley joined the Marines before the beginning of World War II and proudly served his country in the Pacific Theater, as a drill sergeant in Yermo and in transporting the troops back from Europe at the end of the war. Riley came to the High Desert in 1950 with International Harvester, providing vehicles and equipment to the local farmers and ranchers. Thereafter, he was involved with the local Buick dealership and owned a cotton ranch in Helendale before purchasing ScottÕs Restaurant and Bar on D Street (Route 66) in Victorville, which then became ÒRiley BÕs.Ó As there was no freeway, Riley BÕs became a major stop for travelers on Route 66 as well as the main watering hole for the locals, the servicemen and their families at George Air Force Base. In 1961, Riley then purchased the Red Rooster Cafe and Cocktail Lounge (now the Route 66 Museum) and remodeled Riley BÕs as a cocktail lounge with live entertainment. For many years in the 1960s, Riley BÕs was the only establishment in the High Desert to feature live entertainment, including Riley B himself doing the ÒRiley B Twist.Ó He later acquired the Sportsman Lounge located between Riley BÕs and the Red Rooster bars creating three very different environments for the publicÕs eating and drinking entertainment. In September of 1964, at age 41, Riley B started law school at Southwestern University in Los Angeles. For almost six years, he commuted to Los Angeles for law school, studied 45 hours a week and still worked 20 to 30 hours a week at Riley BÕs, while his wife, Beverly, handled the bulk of the managerial and bookkeeping duties of the businesses.In 1971, Riley, at age 47, was sworn in as an attorney-at-law and continued practicing law for the next 24 years, until his retirement in 1995, at age 72. Riley BÕs first major law practice started shortly after he became a lawyer, when he took over Joseph B. CampbellÕs practice in Victorville after Joe Campbell was appointed a judge of the San Bernardino Superior Court. Riley B continued practicing in a successful law partnership and then started Thompson & Thompson Law Corporation in January of 1984 with his daughter, Sherry A. Thompson, after she completed law school and returned to the Victor Valley area. At one point, Thompson & Thompson was the largest law firm in Victorville with 13 attorneys and nearly 50 employees. Throughout all these years, RileyÕs wife, Beverly, continued to work by his side, primarily handling the bookkeeping and accounting side of the businesses. During his active days in the Victorville business community, Riley B. Thompson was involved with many community and business groups, including the Victorville ElkÕs Lodge No. 1877, of which he was a past exalted ruler, the Rotary Club, the Victorville Chamber of Commerce and the High Desert Bar Association. Riley B was an avid golfer and was a member of the Apple Valley Country Club since October of 1955. At the time of his death, Riley was the longest continuous member of the club and was its past president in 1972. Riley B worked hard to achieve his dream of living on the golf course and played as much golf as his health would allow after his retirement. Riley B. Thompson is survived by his loving family, including his wife of more than 45 years, Beverly B. Thompson of Apple Valley; daughter, Sherry A. Thompson and her husband, Richard La Liberte, of Apple Valley; son, William Donnelly of Sonoma; daughter-in-law, Linda ÒLilyÓ Thompson of Apple Valley; brothers, Harry ÒCorkyÓ Thompson and Donald Thompson and his wife, Juanita, all of Kansas City, Kan.; sister, Martha Robertson of Hemet; grandchildren, Dr. Jay Thompson of Oxnard, Dr. Sheraine Thompson of La Jolla, Alex La Liberte of Klamath Falls, Ore., and Kevin Donnelly of Sonoma; as well as being survived by many nephews and nieces in Kansas and California. Riley B was predeceased by his brothers, Bernard and Gene Thompson, sister, Betty King and son, Dr. Gerald Thompson. Riley B had a great life and he would ask us all to only remember the happy times. In lieu of a service, Riley B wants us to have one more gathering to celebrate his life, which is set for 1 p.m. April 15 at the Apple Valley Country Club. Please come and share your memories of Riley with his family and many, many friends and associates.
Published by Daily Press, Hesperia Star & Desert Dispatch on Mar. 26, 2006.
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