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Jefferson County’s First Family

April 6, 2010 - Alex Marshall
There have no doubt been a number of prominent First Families in Jefferson County since its beginnings more than 200 years ago, but none appear to be more devoted to family, business and community than John and Rita Riley.
Last week, John Riley was honored with the Robert J. D’Anniballe Sr. Entrepreneur of the Year Award at Progress Alliance’s Best of County awards dinner. 
Other than the D’Anniballe children, Karen, Lynn, Robert Jr. and Donald, who really do exemplify their father’s entrepreneurial spirit best, there is no more deserving person than John Riley to be the first recipient of this prestigious award.
John would be the first to tell you that his success in business could not have happened without his partner in life, Rita, who together opened that very first Kwik King store in Toronto in 1984.
The Riley’s business portfolio and civic contributions are well known in the greater Steubenville/Weirton area and their accomplishments in these areas speak for itself. What you may not know (but probably do) is the longstanding devotion and commitment that John and Rita have for family and friends.
I know this to be true as I have had the privilege on several occasions to be counted in as an ex-officio family member. No vote mind you, just a voice in a couple of family/friend get-togethers recently.
One such occasion occurred over New Year’s, when I was thrilled to share the ski slopes of Seven Springs Mountain Resort with the entire Riley family. While I couldn’t quite keep up with Jay (John and Rita’s oldest) and his brother-in-law, who are hell on skis, I did manage to stay ahead of John and daughter April (the latter a snowboarder) for most of the day.
Perhaps the most revealing insight into the Riley family world for me came after slope time with some quality family time in the living room of John’s really cool motor home, where we enjoyed more than a drink or two to warm up our frigid bodies and the conversation.
I was struck that afternoon by the closeness and respect shown by family members for one another during our conversations. Jay, the oldest of two children is well on his way to ensuring that Kwik King will have a second generation family member running the business. John and Rita’s daughter, April, while not in the family business, has been blessed with her parent’s entrepreneurial spirit owning a dance studio in Toronto.
Kids today, or I should say young adults, like to hang with their parents – and vice-versa. That was evident with the Riley children. While the Riley kids have struck out on their own and are busy raising families, children today are living at home longer, and now thanks to Obama care, will be insured under mom and dad’s health care policy even longer as well. How swell is that :)
My wife and I see the same relationships with our four children, too. In a sense, they are our best friends.
Oh how times have changed. I cannot recall wanting to be in the same ZIP code with my parents, let alone hanging out together. Strike a chord with any of you boomers?
While the First Family tag is generally reserved for folks occupying the White House, here in Jefferson County, THE RILEY FAMILY RULES!



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Jay & John Riley