Wheeling attorney Arch Riley dies

By Chris Dickerson | Dec 13, 2007

WHEELING -- A prominent Wheeling attorney has died.

Arch Wilson Riley died Dec. 12. He was 77.

Riley served as an assistant state attorney general in 1956 just after graduation from West Virginia University's College of Law. In 1959, he was elected to the state Senate at age 28, which was the youngest senator ever at the time. He served as chairman of the Judiciary Committe.

Riley was born Nov. 11, 1930, a son of the late Robert Joseph and Ellen Wilson Riley, and was the grandson of former state Attorney General Thomas Sylvester Riley and the nephew of former state Supreme Court Justice James B. Riley.

In 1964, he was elected Ohio County's Prosecuting Attorney. In that job, he led the law enforcement task force dubbed "Riley's Raiders."

In 1968, he ran for U.S. Congress and was defeated by Robert H. Mollohan in the Democratic primary

Riley acted as general counsel for the Wheeling Urban Renewal Authority. He was appointed Chairman of the Public Defender Corporation for the First Judicial Circuit in 1982 and served on its Board until his death. He was Fiduciary Commissioner of Ohio County from 1983 to 1986. Riley also served as Chairman of the Ohio County Democratic Executive Committee for 10 years.

He was President of the Ohio County Bar Association from 1995-1996, a member of the American Bar Association, the West Virginia Bar Association, and the West Virginia State Bar, which awarded him the Certificate of Merit.

Riley was instrumental in founding the Commission on Lawyer Assistance and Intervention of the West Virginia State Bar in 1982, one of the first of its kind in the United States. He served as Chairman of the Committee until his passing and contributed innumerable hours facilitating the recovery of the impaired and educating lawyers about alcohol and substance abuse, frequently lecturing at the College of Law, bar associations and legal education seminars.

In 2004, he was named a West Virginia Bar Foundation Fellow in recognition of his outstanding dedication to the welfare of his community and honorable service to the legal profession in his professional, public and private life.

Riley's civic activities included Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Russell Nesbitt School, Member of the Board and Executive Committee of the Ohio Valley Industrial and Business Corporation, Board of Directors of United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley and was general campaign Chairman. He also served on the City of Wheeling Charter Review Board and was a member of the Board of Directors of Hubco, Inc., Wheeling Closure Corporation, and Market Center, Inc.

An avid golfer, Riley served as President of the Virginias Senior Golf Association and was a former director and president of the Wheeling Country Club. He was an active member of St. Joseph's Cathedral Parish where he served on the Pastoral Council.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Spina Bifida Association of Western Pennsylvania, 134 Shenot Road, Wexford, Pa. 15090.

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