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Helen T. Riley

Sep 22, 2020

A Mass of Christian Burial for Helen T. Riley was held Monday, Sept. 21, at Holy Family Catholic Church in Emmetsburg. Celebrant was the Rev. Bill Schreiber.

Interment was in Mt. Zion Catholic Church Cemetery in Fonda. The Martin-Mattice Funeral Home in Emmetsburg was in charge of arrangements.

Helen Theresa Riley, daughter of Luke and Catherine (Prendergast) McGowan, was born Aug. 24, 1926 at her family home in Fonda. She received her education at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic School in Fonda. Helen later attended Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, where she received her degree in education. Helen taught at Bradford country school in Calhoun County, near Knoke, Iowa and later taught elementary school in Ayrshire.

On Aug. 7, 1950 Helen was united in marriage to Robert E. Riley in Fonda at the Catholic Church. They were blessed with three sons. Helen and Robert made their home near Ringsted where they farmed. She was employed as a Walmart greeter in Spencer and was the receptionist at the Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce.

Helen was a faithful member of Holy Family Catholic Church in Emmetsburg where she was active in Catholic Daughters of America and church circle. She also participated in a Rosary group. Helen was an avid reader and enjoyed writing.

She was known by individuals of all ages throughout the community. She was active in the Can’t Come Crabby Club and the ladies group from Jack Creek Township.

Helen loved being with her family and following any events her grandchildren and great grandchildren participated in. Helen was known to all of the school kids as “Grandma Riley” due to the fact she attended nearly every event held at the school, whether it was sports or music. She was often referred to as the 3rd Official at E-Hawk basketball games as she always sat right behind the players bench and wasn’t afraid to voice her opinion on calls made. She knew so many of the students by their names and was always willing to talk to them. Helen’s driving techniques and honking are legendary.

Helen passed away Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020 at the Palo Alto County Hospital in Emmetsburg, at the age of 94. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Robert; and three brothers, John, Vince and Leo McGowan.

She is survived by her sons and daughters-in-law, Keith and Denise Riley of Cherokee, Jack and Kathy Riley of Fort Dodge, and Ted and Lori Riley of Emmetsburg; seven grandchildren; 18 great grand- children; as well as many other relatives and countless friends.

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