Riley L. Northam, 82, entered into eternal life with the Lord on February 7th, 2023, after a short but noble journey to his final earthly moments after suffering from a stroke on January 22nd, 2023.
Riley spent his last days surrounded by love and prayer with his wife Lyn at his side and in the gentle hands of his caregivers at his home at Marshall Pines.
Riley was born on November 1st, 1940, to Dewey and Joyce (Dix) Northam in Modest Town, Virginia. As the son of a farmer, Riley learned the value of discipline and hard work at a very young age working in the shadow of his father. Riley found hard work and dedication very rewarding and was happiest when getting his hands dirty with a project. After graduating from Parksley High School in 1958, he went on to study History and Political Science at the University of Richmond.
In 1964 his nation called, and instead of accepting the draft notice that was to be sent to him, he chose to join the Marines. Just 4 months after his 23rd birthday, he arrived at Parris Island, and stood on the Yellow Footprints. Thirteen weeks later Riley walked across the parade deck as a Marine. In the summer of 1964 Riley arrived at Camp Geiger and began his combat training, and later that same fall headed to Jacksonville, Florida for training as an Aircraft Electronics Technician.
In February of 1965, Riley met the love of his life on a blind date with a beautiful young woman training to become a nurse, Lyn Tibbits. From their first date, Riley knew that he had met the woman he wanted to marry and build a life with. Soon after, Riley received his first orders to Grosse Ile Naval Air Station attached to a reserve Marine Transport Squadron, fixing C-119 Transport planes. Riley and Lyn were married on September 17th, 1966 at Sacred Heart Church in Grosse Ile, Michigan. Riley served his country in the Viet Nam War from 1967-1968 and joined the Marine Reserves when he left active duty in 1968.
Riley earned his B.A. in History from Wayne State University, in Detroit, Michigan in 1973. Throughout the next several years Riley began to develop his professional career in Electronic and Mechanical Quality Inspection and Instruction. He found his true calling in teaching and developing standards for electronics manufacturing for government contracts. Riley grew into an award-winning and greatly sought after Master Instructor in the specialty of printed circuitry and cable harnessing. His career culminated to his final position and dream job with Honeywell/NASA, where he worked until his well-earned retirement in October of 2015 at 75 years of age.
In 2017, Riley was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. He took this news in stride and remained as active as he could as his disease course advanced. He continued to find happiness in his books as reading and historical research had always been his passion. He also continued to recount the stories of his youth and his family lineage with those closest to him, knowing his life would live on in the retelling of his history by his family. Riley had a noble resilience in his journey with Alzheimer’s, instead of giving up he continue to live his life just as he always had and replied to inquiries of how he was doing as he always had, “I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and down the road I go” ….
Riley is survived by Lyn, his devoted wife of 56 years; his brother Burton (Mae Dean); his three children, his sons, Christopher (Lindsay) and Jamie (Lisa); his daughter Beth (Randall) Young; and his nine grandchildren; Zack, Alex, Isabelle, Sam, Jack, Eric, Adam, Kate, and Will.
Riley lived a full and adventurous life dedicated to his family and his work. He could be a tough nut to crack sometimes but would have given you the shirt off of his back and found joy in rolling up his sleeves to use his hands and skills to give back to his community, no matter where he lived. His love for the outdoors came at an early age while hunting the woods of the family land or crabbing on the shores of the Chesapeake and continued through his many travels. He was a true perpetual scholar and would share his knowledge with anyone willing to listen. His sense of humor was described as unique and often not as appreciated as it should have been, but Riley was never afraid to be his genuine self with everyone lucky enough to meet him. The world is a better place having had Riley in it, and he will be truly missed by all those enriched by knowing him. Semper Fi, Riley…
The memorial mass and internment will be held on March 2nd, 2023, at 11am @ St. Teresa of Avila Church in Grovetown, Georgia.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in Riley’s honor to The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation or Habitat for Humanity, as these were two of the charities that he actively worked with throughout the years.
Official donation links:
Marine Toys for Tots
Online Donation – Habitat for Humanity International
Also, the service will be live streamed over the church email.
Enter: http://st-teresa.com/funeral on our computer or phone mail and click on the site to start the download a little before 11 AM,- 2:30 PM
Burton Northam can be contacted at 757-651-9053 or 217 Blossom Ridge Dr. Mooresville, NC 28117