Cover photo for Lee Riley's Obituary
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1929 Lee 2010

Lee Riley

February 28, 1929 — March 8, 2010

Lee B. Riley, aged 71, died on March 8, 2010 in Jackson, Wyoming. He was born February 28, 1939 to L. Glen Riley and Lois B. Riley of Bountiful, Utah.

Lee spent his early years on his parents' truck farm in Bountiful, Utah, where he learned his love of horses, farming and gardening, hiking, fishing and hunting in the mountains surrounding his home. He carried all these passions with him throughout his lifetime. One of Lee's first jobs as a young man was delivering newspapers on horseback.

Lee enlisted in the Army at age 17 on June 28, 1956; he was stationed at Fort Ord, California for basic training and served honorably in the Army Reserve until 1963. From 1957-1959, he served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Illinois.

Lee attended the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He then moved to Los Angeles, California where he attended UCLA. During this time he went to work at the Beverly Hilton Hotel; Lee fell in love with the hotel business and it with him. The Hilton family offered him a place in their executive training program and he spent time at premier Hilton properties in Beverly Hills, New York, Boston and Detroit.

During his years at the Beverly Hilton he met and became friends with many Hollywood stars and recording artists. His stories delighted many of us over the years; his favorite was an invitation by his hero, John Wayne, to share a bottle of Wild Turkey Bourbon with him prior to the premier of True Grit.

When travelling and corporate life became too stressful for his family, he returned to Utah and spent many years working for Clark and Condie Hotel Associates, managing several of their properties including the building of the Salt Lake Hilton.

Lee proposed to his beloved wife, Jacquie, on July 26, 1976 at Jenny Lake Lodge in Jackson Hole, WY. It was on this weekend that they promised each other as soon as they could financially afford it, they would make Jackson Hole their permanent home. They were married on September 26, 1976 in Salt Lake City and celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary last year. They lived in Utah and Idaho for the first three years of their marriage.

In 1980, Lee was recruited to become General Manager of the Hale Koa Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii. Lee and Jacquie resided at the 420-room hotel from 1980 to 1994. Under Lee's stewardship the hotel grew from potential bankruptcy to profitability within one year. The Hale Koa Hotel held the highest occupancy of any hotel in the nation during the 14 years Lee was the General Manager. During his last 18 months at the Hale Koa Hotel, Lee oversaw the building of the second tower, which doubled the size of the hotel to 840 rooms. In recognition of his outstanding service to the military community during these years in Hawaii, he was awarded the following civilian medals: a�� Commanders Award for Civilian Service a�� Outstanding Civilian Award a�� Distinguished Civilian Award a�� Meritorious Civilian Award a�� Order of the White Plume Upon his departure from Honolulu, Congress ordered that an American Flag be flown in Lee's honor over the U.S. Capital on February 8, 1994.

Lee and Jacquie finally realized their dream and moved from Honolulu to Jackson, Wyoming in February 1994 when Lee became the Managing Partner of The Wort Hotel. With Lee's love of Jackson Hole and his commitment to the importance of The Wort Hotel and its history, the hotel was placed on the National Historic Register. Under his guidance, long-needed renovations began to evolve which brought The Wort Hotel back to its prominence in the community. In 2004, Lee and Jacquie sold their ownership to Bill and Ginger Baxter. Lee felt strongly that The Wort should be preserved for the community of Jackson Hole and that the Baxters would continue that legacy.

Lee and Jacquie then purchased the Parkway Inn in February 2004 in partnership with Greg and Peggy Prugh. They continued as they had throughout their marriage doing what they loved best. As Lee often said, "The hotel business was his avocation and vocation. I have never worked a day in my life."

During their marriage, Lee and Jacquie shared a passion for travel, visiting over 50 countries and with few exceptions, every state in The United States. Before his death in November 2009, they completed Lee's lifelong dream of circumnavigating South America. Each considered the other their best friend and shared the love of nature and their animals.

Throughout Lee's career, he was committed to community service. Lee served on the Chamber Board of Directors in every city in which he lived. He was on the Board of Directors for the American Hotel and Motel Association and he was elected President of Historic Hotels of America in 2003. Lee served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce from 1995 to 1998 and served as its President in 1998.

During his years in Hawaii the Armed Services Committee of the United States recruited Lee as a consultant to travel throughout the world visiting R & R facilities. His recommendations to the Armed Services Committee and Congress continue to positively impact our active duty and retired military members and their families.

He is survived by his wife, Jacquie Riley of Jackson, WY, his daughter, McKenna Lee Riley of Jackson, WY, his son Chris Riley of Bountiful, UT, and his sister, Rowene Call (Alan) of Farmington, UT, and many loving nieces and nephews. He was receded in death by his parents and his siblings: Glen Kay Riley (Adarene), Alta Brown (Norris), and Mary Lynn Coon (Dan).

Memorial Services were held at the Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole on Monday, March 15th and he was buried at Elliot Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice of the Tetons, P. O. Box 428, Jackson, WY 83001.


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