Buddy Riley

Many drivers use Buddy Riley Boulevard in Magnolia during their everyday commutes, but few know the whole story of the namesake behind the road.

Charlie Riley, candidate for Montgomery County Precinct 2 commissioner, recalled his father, Buddy, as a man who was always eager to help the Magnolia community. Charlie and his father bonded through community involvement and a love of baseball—from the time he was 8 years old through the age of 18 when he was the starting catcher at Magnolia High School.

"There would always be some kid or kids who couldn't afford, or didn't have a glove, and he'd always figure out some way [to help]," Charlie said. "I think that's why if I see somebody that's hurting or needing something—I don't have a lot of money to throw at stuff—but that's my way of being able to give back. [Buddy] certainly didn't have much money either I can assure you that."

Buddy worked as a maintenance operator and later as a road foreman at the Montgomery County commissioners office from the 1970s through the '90s. Over the course of his career Buddy was able to foster lasting friendships with many local officials and residents through his public service including David Hill, Montgomery County Precinct 5 constable, and Montgomery County Sheriff Tommy Gage.

Hill said he has maintained a close friendship with the Riley family for about 40 years and was inspired by Buddy.

"[Buddy's] name is blemish free," Hill said. "I've never heard a person say a bad thing about him. He worked for the county, was an honorable man and he handled his business right. He remembered who he worked for—the people of Montgomery County. That's one thing that really has influenced my life is remembering who you work for."

After about 35 years of friendship with the Riley family, Gage said he felt Buddy was like a brother to him. Buddy's children and grandchildren often call him Uncle Tommy.

"If somebody would get down and have a need or a problem, Buddy Riley would be the first to stand up and say, 'Hey, these folks need some help,' and take the lead," Gage said. "He's just one of those kind of guys that you always looked forward to being around."

Buddy died as a result of complications from esophageal cancer and a lung infection on March 8, 2000, about six years after his initial diagnosis. He is survived by Alice, his wife of almost 45 years, his two sons Charlie and Brad and five grandchildren.

Shortly after his death, Malcolm Purvis, Montgomery County Precinct 2 commissioner at the time, approached Charlie with a proposition to name the old Magnolia-Conroe Road after his father. Community members signed a petition to support the name change, and an oak tree and monument bearing Buddy's name were placed in his honor at City Hall.

"I certainly miss him every day," Charlie said. "He was 67 years old [when he died]—he got cheated," Charlie said. "67 years old, that's very young, but he lived life to the fullest and he loved people."