Walter B. Riley Jr. '43

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A Selfless Tribute to His Beloved Pi Chapter

Walter B. Riley Jr. '43 enjoyed a successful career as a developer and builder in Southern New Jersey, but a part of his heart was always in central Pennsylvania, specifically at Penn State.

"Pi Chapter TKE was the seminal influence on him while he was in college," said his son, Walter B. III. "I think the fraternity had more to do with who he became than anything else."

"By" Riley, as he was known to Pi TKEs of the early 1940s, came to Penn State from South Jersey and went back there to work and raise a family. With partner Bob Scarborough, he formed Scarborough Homes, which they eventually sold to the Weyerhaeuser Corp. He then moved east to Medford, N.J., where he spent his retirement years growing Christmas trees, his son said.

But he never forgot his fraternity. "It was his thing," said Walter III.
Over the years, his name appeared again and again on the honor roll of alumni contributors, and in 1997, in honor of the work of 1965 alumnus Ben Novak as chapter adviser, By and his wife, Adele, established an endowment fund with a $3,000 gift of stock.

But as he lay ill last winter - just weeks before his death on February 13, his 83rd birthday - he talked with his son about arranging a more substantial and lasting gift. His wish was to extend the life of the house and improve living conditions for the active fraters.

Working with Frater Larry Foster '48, they put together a plan to donate $100,000 to the fraternity for a specific project. They asked four other alumni - Bob Mechling '48, Ross Gibson '66, Dale Davenport '66 and Rich Wolfgang '94 - to work with Foster to choose a project and oversee it.

This committee, consulting with other members of the alumni Board of Advisers, decided quickly and firmly that top priority for improvement of the chapter house was replacement of the 1950s-era bathrooms. So, working with architect John Lew, the board undertook this renovation, which culminated this fall in completion of bright new facilities on the second and third floors.

"By" Riley's $100,000 donation to Pi Chapter will be recognized during Blue-White Weekend next spring with dedication of a plaque and a personal "thank you" to his family. His generous remembrance to his fraternity surely will be remembered by TKE actives and alumni for many years to come.