(Posted June 23, 2017)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Pat Riley moved to Mount Sterling in 1947 as an 18-year-old bride. At the time, she only knew the town as a dot on the map.
“My husband’s friends and family immediately welcomed me. Even though I was born and raised in Columbus, Mount Sterling is home to me. It’s a lovely little town,” she said.
And all the more lovely for having Riley in it. A community service champ, Riley is grand marshal of this year’s Mount Sterling Community Days Festival. She will lead the parade on July 1.
“I’ve done so many things I’m so proud of, and I’m really proud of being named grand marshal. It is an honor,” she said.
Riley’s list of accomplishments includes her longstanding dedication to veterans. She joined the Mount Sterling American Legion Auxiliary, Unit 417, after her husband, Bob, a World War II veteran, returned home from serving with the U.S. Navy in the Korean War.
Riley worked her way through the auxiliary’s local ranks, then made her mark at the state level, eventually serving as state president in 1974-75.
“I had the thrill of laying the wreathe at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery,” she said of highlights of her term as president.
For her efforts on behalf of veterans, Riley earned a national award from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), for which she worked for 30 years, retiring as an associate bank examiner.
In conjunction with the Auxiliary, Riley was involved with Buckeye Girls State for 25 years, serving for a time as director. The annual program educates young women in the duties, privileges, rights, and responsibilities of good citizenship. Mock elections place participants in elected positions for the week-long program.
Riley is familiar with the real deal when it comes to holding political office. For 10 years in the 1970s and ‘80s, she served on Mount Sterling village council. She was only the second woman to hold a seat on council at the time. During one of her re-election campaigns, she was the only woman elected to office in Madison County.
Riley was on council when the village regrouped following a fire that razed town hall. She served on a committee that secured funding to rebuild. John W. Galbreath, a businessman and philanthropist with ties to Mount Sterling, donated half the needed funds.
Riley’s service also includes volunteering at Madison Health, serving as moderator at United Church of Mount Sterling, and membership in Order of the Eastern Star Chapter 74. Additionally, she was a member of the 20th Century Club and the Historical Society.
Riley is especially proud of her family. She and Bob raised one son, Mike, in Mount Sterling. Mike followed in his father’s footsteps, serving in the U.S. Navy. He and his wife, Beverly, live in Jacksonville, Fla.
“I’ve been very blessed with grandchildren,” Riley said. She has two grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren. “They are all adorable, and I love every one of them.”