Viewing at Gause Funeral Home , 625 Sheppard Holland Parkway, Bartow FL, 33830 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Friday, June 12, 2020. Funeral Service will be held at the RP Funding Center, 701 W. Lime Street, Lakeland, FL 33815 on Saturday, June 13, 2020 at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that a donation be made to the Ken Riley Foundation, P. O. Box 2164, Bartow, FL 33831.
Interment will be at Wildwood Cemetery, Bartow, FL.
****Do to the COVID 19 virus, if you plan to attend, "A MASK WILL BE REQUIRED."
****The RP Funding Center is a very large venue, so we will easily be able maintain social distance.
A Tribute to Ken
By Prof Samuel G. Freedman
On a steamy Florida afternoon in May 2019, just before the inevitable thunderstorms descended, I waved goodbye to Ken Riley. At 71, retired from pro football for decades, he still cut the trim, vigorous figure of a cornerback, still had the handlebar mustache and deep-set, observant eyes that were his trademark. On this particular day, his annual golf tournament, which raised money for academic and vocational scholarships, was just finishing up. In his perpetually understated way, Riley had nearly every reason to feel satisfied.
When Riley was growing up in nearby Bartow, Florida, in the 1950's and ’60s, the closest he got to a golf course was gazing out of the window of his segregated school, Union Academy, at the all-white club across the street. A black person could only step onto its fairways and greens as a caddie.
Now, in retirement from a career playing and coaching at Florida A&M University and in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers, Riley could play the magnanimous host on the Cleveland Heights course in Lakeland, Florida. In its fourth year, his tournament had raised about $25,000 and attracted some of the athletic legends who counted Riley as a friend. Out on the links were Sam Jones, a mainstay of the Boston Celtics dynasty, and NFL All-Pros such as James “Shack” Harris, Elvin Bethea and Henry Lawrence. The tournament coincided with the 50th wedding anniversary of Riley and his wife Barbara, and their children and grand kids had come home for the festivities.
Meet Ken Riley #13
Before his professional career, Riley played quarterback for Florida A&M University. In addition to being a skilled athlete, Riley also excelled academically. He earned his team’s scholastic award and a Rhodes Scholar Candidacy. In 1977, Riley was enshrined in Florida A&M’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
After graduating from college, Riley was selected by the Bengals in the 6th round of the 1969 Common Draft. [READ MORE]
The Ken Riley Foundation was created to provide economic support to financially challenged students in their pursuit of advanced education that include college or technical schools. Working with the Eastside Positive Action Committee, Inc., the Union Academy Alumni Association, Inc., the Ken Riley Foundation will support other 501 ( C) (3) entities that directly improve the economic stability of children through education. A future where the possibilities and dreams are the same for all central Florida youth regardless of economic background.