Mary Teresa (Riley) Gilman, 95, died peacefully at home in Greenfield on November 2, 2020, in the company of her loving children.
A proud native of New Bedford, MA, she was born May 7, 1925 to Charles Leo Riley, Sr. and Mary Teresa (Donaghy) Riley. She attended parochial schools in New Bedford and was a graduate of Holy Family High School, class of 1944. As one in a sea of Marys during her parochial school years, she adopted the nickname “Myke” the moment she set foot on a college campus.
Despite her father’s advice to become a teacher, a nurse or a nun, Myke chose to major in Food Science at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), one of the few women who were allowed into the program each year. After earning her B.S. in 1948, Myke moved to Manhattan and became a Marketing Specialist for the USDA, traveling to wharves and food processing plants in New York City, Rochester and Florida to inspect and grade processed foods, including food bound for the Queen Mary and other transatlantic ocean liners.
Myke met her future husband, Ralph G. Gilman, Jr. (“Bud”), in chemistry lab during her junior year at UMass. They married in New Bedford on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 1951, and honeymooned on Cape Cod. The couple settled in Greenfield in 1952, where her husband opened a family practice in general dentistry. Myke devoted herself to raising her four children and to community service. She later took bookkeeping classes and became Office Manager of her husband’s dental practice until they retired in 1987. Following retirement, Bud and Myke participated in Elderhostel tours throughout the eastern United States, golfed and rode horseback. They were members of Greenfield Country Club, and Myke served as the Club’s Clerk. Following Bud’s death in 2002, she made many dear friends with whom she golfed, bowled, and shared countless laughs while solving the world’s problems over fish sandwiches at Pete’s.
Myke was an enthusiastic participant in Silver Sneakers at the Greenfield YMCA and volunteered as a YMCA Ambassador. She was a communicant of Holy Trinity Parish in Greenfield, where she was a member of the Rosary Society, a Eucharistic Minister, and a volunteer with Community Meals. She was proud to be responsible for washing and ironing the church’s purificators for 15 years, earning her the nickname “my Irish washerwoman” by Msgr. Yargeau.
Myke was active in the Kappa Kappa Gamma (UMass) alumni association for 15 years and served as Trustee and Secretary of the House Board. She loved gardening and was a member of the Greenfield Garden Club.
Myke enjoyed listening to live music, especially the various ensembles in which her husband played saxophone for many years, and served on the Boards of Directors of Shea Swing Orchestra and The Let’s Dance Band. She was also “adopted” by her husband’s Greenfield High School Class of ’39 following his death, taking over his role on the Reunion Committee from 2002 until 2015.
Over the years, Myke was active in the Board of Organized Work (BOOW) at the Franklin Medical Center, including as a Surgical Services Volunteer, a buyer for the gift shop, and a volunteer in the coffee shop. She was President of the Junior Branch of the BOOW and co-chaired the “Follies” show for charity in the early 1970s.
Myke is survived by her children, Lee Beth Gilman of Brunswick, ME, Stephen R. Gilman (Rolf Carlson) of Boston, MA, Scott M. Gilman (Warunya) of Los Angeles, CA, and Barry J. Gilman of New York, NY, and by her grandsons, Christopher G. Scott of Brunswick, ME and Michael G. Gilman of Los Angeles, CA. She is also survived by her brother, David K. Riley of Grand Junction, CO, her sister-in-law, Pamela (McIntyre) Riley of Westwood, MA, and by dozens of nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. In addition to her husband, Myke was predeceased by her brothers and sisters Charles L. Riley, Jr., Robert R. Riley, Paul V. Riley, Sr., Dorothy J. Kozcera, Eleanor M. Riley, John F. Riley II, Margaret M. Livingstone, Leonard J. Riley, and George A. Riley.
A Liturgy of Christian Burial will be celebrated Thursday, November 5, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. at Holy Trinity Church, 133 Main St., Greenfield, with Msgr. Ronald G. Yargeau, celebrant. Committal prayers will follow in Calvary Cemetery, Greenfield. Due to Covid restrictions, there are no calling hours or reception, but a Celebration of Life will be planned in the future for Myke’s many friends and relatives.
At Myke’s request, memorial contributions are suggested to The Church of St. Francis Xavier, 55 W. 15th Street, New York, NY 10011 (www.sfxavier.org), through which she had been attending weekly live-streamed masses.
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