John (Jack) R. Riley

1933 - 2021

Posted 5/4/21

John R. Riley (Jack) of Katy, Texas, was born in 1933, at home, on a farm in Kahoka, Missouri to Dorothea and Ralph Riley. He passed away at his daughter's house in Ouray, Colorado at 87 years young. …

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John (Jack) R. Riley

1933 - 2021


John R. Riley (Jack) of Katy, Texas, was born in 1933, at home, on a farm in Kahoka, Missouri to Dorothea and Ralph Riley. He passed away at his daughter's house in Ouray, Colorado at 87 years young. He was married to MaDonna Callahan Riley (Donna) for 62 years who preceded him in death. Jack and his family were residents of Katy, Texas since 1968.

Jack was a Renaissance man with many interests and skills.

Jack was the youngest pilot in the state of Missouri at age 14. He graduated from Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Mo. He built his own airplane at age 18. He then went on to get his commercial pilot's license and flew his plane from Woods Rice Farm until he was in his 80's.

He liked to say, "There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, there are no old, bold pilots!"

He worked as a roughneck in the oil patches in New Mexico and Texas. He and his wife Donna were smoke spotters at Lookout Mountain in Wyoming when they were first married.

He served his country in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and was stationed at Sandia Base, New Mexico as a corporal and military policeman. He was head of security for the Los Alamos Laboratory which had 1000 employees under J. Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist, during the Manhattan Project.

Jack was the youngest zone manager for International Harvester, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois, St Louis, Missouri and Zurich, Switzerland. He then took a risk and joined his dad in Katy, Texas in 1968, manufacturing truck-mount and pull-type fertilizer spreaders that Jack designed. Their company, on Highway Blvd. in Katy, Texas, which was originally called Riley Manufacturing Co., is now Texas High Roller Inc., in Bryan, Texas. It manufactures spreader beds on truck-mount and pull-type spreaders on high flotation tires for road repair and agricultural use.

He supplied and sourced medical imaging equipment with his daughter Betsy in the UK, Czech Republic, Eire, Ireland, India and Iran in the 1990s and 2000s bringing lower-cost medical imaging to cash-strapped hospitals and the National Health Service, UK., thus saving many lives.

He was on the board of directors of Woods Rice Farms, as the farmer within him never left despite his worldwide travels. He was an Honorary Member of the Texas Rangers Association and a lifelong member of the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association).

He read a book every day of his life. He was an author and wrote engineering papers and fictional novels. He was a keen historian.

He was also an inventor with many patents to his name like the AuCon, a self-contained automatic hydraulic controller box, for hydraulic installations. He designed and manufactured the hot mix asphalt conveyor belt for road repair applications.

He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and helped build the Knights of Columbus Hall at St Bartholomew's Catholic Church in Katy, Texas, where he and his family were parishioners.

His sharp wit and guidance will be sadly missed by his survivors, daughter Elizabeth (Betsy) Riley-Nicholson, Son-in-law Howard Nicholson, grandson Jack Riley-Carty, sister Darby Ann Hanssen, nephews, Paul, Joel, Seth and niece Sara, plus many close friends including Colonel Leslie H. Weinstein (U.S. Army, retired) and his daughter Eva Jennings, the Walker clan, and English friends, and many friends from all walks of life.

Jack will be buried at Memorial Oaks Cemetery in Houston, Texas at the Riley Family gravesite.

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