Van Norman Riley, a dedicated and loving father, grandfather and husband, passed away after a long battle with cancer on Dec. 12, 2012, in Grass Valley, Calif. He was 84.
Van’s family and friends will celebrate his life with a Rosary Friday evening Dec. 21 at 6:30 p.m. and funeral mass Saturday, Dec. 22 at 1 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Church, 235 Chapel St., Grass Valley. After a graveside ceremony, all are welcome to attend a reception at St. Patrick’s Parish Hall.
Van was born in Mina (Covelo), Calif., on Nov. 4, 1928. Even though Van had a large family, he regularly extended it by opening his home to those who needed his help and support.
Over the years, he provided a home to many family friends that needed a place to live and was a father figure to many more.
Van lived in Southern California through his high school years where he learned to love building engines, fast cars and sailing. After completing college in Susanville, Calif., he moved to Modoc County in Northern California where he lived in a rustic wood cabin with no running water or electricity, worked the family cattle ranch and developed his passion for hunting.
During this time, Van met and married Catherine and started his family. They moved to Grass Valley in 1971.
Van loved all life had to offer and was an extremely active and adventurous person that fearlessly did things most people only dream about. He took his first skydive from 14,000 feet at the age of 70 with an encore at age 75. He visited the Panama Canal, flew in a glider, houseboated on Lake Powell and toured many US historical sites.
Van was an avid golfer who shot his first and only hole in one on No. 5 while a member of the Nevada County Country Club. He loved racing hard top cars, boating, fishing, jigsaw puzzles, reading books of all kinds and was a crafty card and board game player.
Van was a member of many clubs including the Nevada Lodge #13 Masonic Order, Nevada City Elks, Sons in Retirement Nevada City, Northern California Airstream Club and National Historic Society.
He leaves behind his wife of 19 years, Diana Riley; children, Christine Scott, Nancy Swartz, Jay Riley and Cecelia Hill; stepsons, Mike Cebollero and Tom Cebollero; in-laws Ron Scott, Rick Swartz, DeeDee Riley, James Hill, Astrid Cebollero and Jamyn Peralta; and 13 grandchildren, Mathew Riley, Jacob Swartz, Van Riley, Garrett Swartz, Taylor Swartz, Kori Riley, Molly Swartz, Maegan Young, Kristopher Scott, Brianna Cebollero, Garrett Cebollero, Victoria Scott and Anna Salamy; and half-sister, Jeanne Hess.
He is predeceased by his mother, Vivian Browne; father, Reginald Lamberth; half-brother, Reginald Lamberth; step-daughter, Christy Cebollero, and wife of 38 years, Catherine Riley.
The family requests in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Cancer Aid Thrift Shop, 317 S. Auburn St., Grass Valley, CA 95945, (530 273-2365.