My husband, Leonard Riley, was born on Newark Avenue and raised in Bradley Beach. He really loved his hometown and never lived anywhere else. Leonard was a real “people” person. A builder, sheet metal worker, and career policeman, he was a graduate of the FBI Academy and became Deputy Chief, Director of Public Safety, and Mayor of Bradley Beach. He was well known far and wide and had friends and colleagues all over the state.
In contrast, I was a quiet girl from the Midwest. You might be asking how we ever met with so many miles between us?
I had a life changing experience and decided to go back to college to become a school teacher (always my dream). During my busy college schedule, I had a few weeks before the next semester. My sister suggested we take a trip to visit an aunt and uncle on my mother’s side, who lived in Bradley Beach, New Jersey. So, off we went, stopping along the way to pick up a few more aunts in Pennsylvania. I had never been to New Jersey so I was excited. We had a great time and were given the grand tour of Bradley Beach and other parts of the state by Mayor Leonard W. Riley. He was a good friend of my aunt and uncle.
I thought it was so nice of Mayor Riley to take the time to show us the sights. When I returned to college I sent him a little souvenir from Kansas, where I was at school. My “thank you” gift elicited a response from Leonard and we began a long distance correspondence. I made trips back to New Jersey and after I finished college — much to Leonard’s disappointment — I took a teaching job in Indiana. We continued writing, phoning and visiting.
One of the most memorable visits was at Christmas time when Leonard proposed and gave me a ring on the Spring Lake beach. Sorry it was not on the Bradley beach but Leonard did not want anyone to recognize him. As it turned out we were asked to leave because no one was permitted on Spring Lake beach after dark. That was okay. I got the proposal and ring before we left the beach. We had a June wedding and were married 27 years, the best years of my life. My husband was a great man, who had tremendous humility and integrity. I miss him every day.
Note: Beverly was a native of Allan Park, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. She graduated from Ft. Hayes State College in Kansas with a BA in education and a ME in Education. She was hired as a third grade teacher in Indiana. She is still teaching part time as a Reading Specialist for grades K, 1, and 2 in Bradley Beach Elementary School. Leonard graduated from the FBI Academy and was a specialist in finger printing and photography.
Beverly A. Riley