Lester Riley, 90, Kasson
Published 10:53 am Friday, May 17, 2013
On Friday, May 10, 2013, surrounded by family, Lester Riley broke free of his earthly bonds and went to join his beloved, Helen, the love of his life. In declining health for several years, the last four days drained his strength, robbed him of speech but not his hearing, and he lived just long enough to hear from all his grandkids and sons. Friday afternoon, he went peacefully, surrounded by caring hospice workers. Grandson Matt was able to spend that last two days of Lester’s life at his side. Lester’s gentle manner and wonderful sense of humor will be missed.
Born on Sept. 12, 1922, in Springbrook, Wis., the youngest son of Ray and Hilda Riley, Lester grew up in rural Wisconsin and graduated from Spooner High School in 1940. Working as a tree barker in 1941, after Pearl Harbor, he volunteered for the United States Navy and served 1942 to 1945 in the U.S. submarine service. He made four combat patrols on the USS Pargo (SS-264) including a patrol into the Sea of Japan as the war ended. He specialized in maintaining and repairing diesel engines. He felt honored to serve his country in World War II and was proud of his service. A lifelong member of the Minnesota chapter of the U.S. submarine veterans, he was instrumental in organizing Pargo reunions for many years, and in 2006 he and his family hosted a Pargo reunion in Rochester. In 2010, he joined fellow veterans on an honor flight to Washington D.C. to see the World War II memorial. He counted his fellow crewmates among his most treasured friends. He joins the many of them already on eternal patrol.
He met and married cute little Helen Dixon of New Britain, Conn., while stationed briefly in Groton, Conn.
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Post war years were spent working for Dairyland Power in Wisconsin and Minnesota. In 1949, he helped construct the new electric power plant in Twin Lakes and spent the next 39 plus years working there, raising a family of four sons, Michael, Richard, William and John.
Mike and John preceded him in death, as did Helen in 1986. Survivors include sons, Richard and William; and grandchildren, Mark, Julie, Matthew, Kelley, Heather and James. There will be no funeral at his request. A private family service will be held to bury his ashes alongside his beloved Helen and son, John. He requested that memorials be to the Submarine Museum in Groton or to the American Diabetes Association.