Vera M. Riley

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MTT News's picture

CROSS PLAINS–Vera Maxine (Wierenga) Riley, age 80, of Cross Plains, WI passed away on Oct. 14, 2019 peacefully in her sleep.  She was born on January 8, 1939 in Beloit, Kansas, the daughter of George and Anna (Remus) Wierenga. She was the second of four children. She married Robert E. Riley on October 23, 1965 in Madison. 

Vera had a passion for learning and teaching. She was a Home Economics teacher at Orchard Ridge Elementary and Memorial High School for almost 20 years. She then continued her academic pursuits, completed her work, and received her Ph.D. from the UW-Madison.  After receiving her Ph.D., she began working as an Assistant Principle at East High School in Madison and stayed in this occupation for over a dozen years; this work was the highlight of her career. Her passion was counseling and working with struggling students, helping them productively move forward within the school community and out in the Madison area. She was quoted as saying “Nothing makes me happier now than to be out in the community and to see how well former students are doing.” She believed in the value of the pursuit of learning, personal growth, and the importance of developing positive values. Even into retirement, she would often substitute teach on a moment’s notice. Vera was especially proud of her “Women of Distinction” award and honor bestowed upon her by the Madison YWCA in 2008. This award recognized Vera for her community service, leadership, and dedication to the lives of others. 

Vera enjoyed staying active within the community, she served on numerous community boards and committees including MATC District board, Madison Area Rehabilitation Center (MARC), Heritage Congregational Church, Northwest Dane Senior Services, Cross Plains-Berry Fire District Board, Alpha Chi Omega Sorority (five decades). Vera was the first women elected to the position of Town Board Supervisor in Cross Plains.  She always enjoyed helping where there was a need. 

She took great pleasure in traveling abroad, cooking, singing in the church choir, working in her flower gardens, biking, and classic Thunderbird Car Club outings with her husband.   

As a person for others, Vera spent countless hours helping her children with homework at the family dinner table. She was always a positive influence and provided reinforcement as they pursued their educational and career aspirations.  She believed in the value of hard work, she proved it by being an example of its virtue in both her work and home life everyday.  She had wonderfully positive influence on many young lives. 

Vera is survived by her husband of 53 years, Robert Riley of 53, daughter Jill (Gilbert) Valentine of Chicago, IL, son John (Jill) Riley of Cross Plains, stepson Robert “Moe” Riley Jr. of Madison, stepdaughter Bonnie (Rick) Fairchild of Madison and seven cherished grandchildren, loving sisters Doris Cobb of Coldwater, KS, Ellen Lekisch of Anchorage, AK, and brother Ira Wierenga of Hastings, NE.    

Funeral services will be held on Oct. 21, 2019, at the Cress Center, 6021 University Ave., Madison, WI  53705. 

In lieu of flowers, a donation to Northwest Dane Senior Services

would be appreciated. 

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