August 19 – Happy Birthday Joe Riley Sr.

riley2Like retail stores, neighborhood grocers, gas stations, bars, florists and every other type of business establishment you can think of, the number of funeral homes that call Amsterdam home has declined dramatically during the last several decades. I can name at least ten undertakers off the top of my head who used to operate in the Rug City who no longer do. They include the former Willis, Boice, Pike, Iwanski, DiMezza, Sargalis, Perillo, Mancini, Johnson & Lindsay, and Twardzik funeral establishments.

There is one Amsterdam funeral home still in operation however that can trace its history back to 1873 when a gentleman named George Burns opened a mortuary establishment on Amsterdam’s lower Church Street. The business changed hands a couple of times and was moved to Grove Street, where in 1921, Arthur Riley became a partner in the business forcing the parlor’s name change to Ouderkirk and Riley. Fifteen years later, Riley bought out Ouderkirk and brought in his two sons, Joe and George and the Riley Mortuary became a one-hundred percent owned Riley family business. It was in 1953, that Joe’s son and today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant, Joe Riley, Jr. first became an official member of the staff…

You can read the rest of my story about this Amsterdam-born undertaker in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.

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