Lester Wilfred Riley was born on June 27, 1922 to William Lorenzo Riley and Audrey Lillian Steeley in New Meadows, Idaho. The Riley family moved to Rice in 1927 when he was five years old.
In 1943, Lester enlisted into the United States Army during Word War II, where he was assigned to the Combat Engineer Division and was stationed in the Philippines. While there he operated heavy equipment in the building of roads.
After being honorable discharged from service in 1945, Lester returned home to Rice, where met and married Fern Hallett. They had two boys, Ronald and Daniel. Les was shortly wid¬owed in early 1948.
Les worked for a construction company building an airport in Bonners Ferry, Idaho where met Majorie (Midge) Louise Wil¬liams. They were married in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. They con¬tinued to live in Bonners Ferry, where Alice and Ernie were born.
He then took a job at a local tire company before they moved to Wallace, Idaho, where Les took a job working for the Starr mine. After four years at the mine, they moved back home to Rice, where Les took a job at small mine company owned by his neighbors. When that mined closed, he went into logging for Brauner Sawmill in Kettle Falls. Lester got his chance to build roads again when he accepted a job with the Stevens County Road Department. He worked for the county until he retired.
Lester enjoyed water witching, helping many families throughout Stevens and Ferry Counties locate water. He also enjoyed farming and raising his sheep, chickens and even the occasional pig.
After retirement, Les and Midge spent hours tending to their garden, getting ready for the upcoming canning season. Les enjoyed canning and jam-making with Midge, even though it was a lot of work.
Les was an avid outdoorsman. He loved to go hunting, fishing, prospecting, water witching, gardening, farming and huckleberry picking. For several years, Les and Midge were Snowbirds. They would head south to Yuma, Arizona where his sister, Mary Dora Hughan, lived. After deciding not to be Snow birds any longer, they were given an opportunity to become the caretakers of the Kettle falls Historical Center at St. Paul’s Mission.
Since they were no longer Snowbirds, they spent their winters with their son Tony and his family. They did this for several years before buying a home in Kettle Falls.
Les was a member of the Quillisascut Grange and the IOOF, both of Rice.
He has survived by his wife, Marjorie of 64 years, Colville; Ron and Suki Riley, Puyallup; Dan and Cheryl Riley, Kennewick; Alice and Don McKern, Rice; Ernie Riley, Pullman; Tony Riley, Kettle Falls; 23 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren.
Les was preceded in death by his parents, William and Audrey; sisters, Mary Dora Hughan, Effie Taylor, Viola Thorpe, Vila Riley; two brothers-in-law, Dolar Hughan, Henry Helm Stetter and his first wife, Hallett Riley.
A memorial service for Lester Wilfred Riley will be held on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Fort Colville Grange (across from Colville High School). The service will start at 11 a.m.
Please join Lester’s family for a potluck lunch in following the service.