W. Thomas Riley, 73, basketball coach

Posted: November 14, 2008

William Thomas Riley, 73, of Bala Cynwyd, a basketball coach and a retired custodial supervisor, died of a stroke Tuesday at Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood.

Mr. Riley graduated from Overbrook High School, where he played on the basketball team with Wilt Chamberlain. He and Chamberlain were teammates for only a year, said Mr. Riley's wife, Rosemary Butler Riley, but her husband never tired of reminiscing about his experience playing with the future superstar, who scored more than 2,000 points during his high school career.

After attending Florida Southern College, Mr. Riley served in the Army in Okinawa, Japan.

Mr. Riley met his future wife when she was coaching girls' sports at St. Matthias School in Bala Cynwyd and he was coaching boys' basketball. He was later the school's athletic director.

In the 1980s, Mr. Riley coached track and field at Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor. He then coached basketball at Akiba Hebrew Academy in Merion. His team won the Tri-County League title in 1991.

For 20 years, until 1997, Mr. Riley directed the Main Line Mid-Atlantic Amateur Athletic Union basketball program. He was a coach with the Narberth Summer Basketball League for 25 years, including last summer, his wife said.

From 1977 until 2000, Mr. Riley was custodial supervisor at Villanova University. Since retiring from Villanova, he was sports equipment manager at Friends Central School in Wynnewood, where he was also assistant girls' basketball coach. He became ill on Monday, the first day of practice, his wife said.

He was an enthusiastic fan of Philadelphia professional sports teams, she said.

In addition to his wife of 39 years, Mr. Riley is survived by sons John, Eric and Thomas; daughters Mary Louise Donahue and Martha "Mimi"; a brother; and two grandchildren.

A Funeral Mass will be said at 11 a.m. today at St. Matthias Church, 128 Bryn Mawr Ave., Bala Cynwyd, where friends may call after 8:30. Burial will be in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.

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