Rodney Michael Riley, 44, was born on February 14, 1978, and passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on May 9, 2022. Rodney was born in Modesto, California and raised in Oakdale, California. He leaves behind former wife Amy Riley Santos and children Garrett, Reece, and Carter, parents Michael and Gayle Riley of Oakdale, his sisters, Amy (Gary) McAndrews, Katie (Eric) Healy and Christy (Joseph) Rinner, and grandmother, Margie Riley. As well as many nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Rod attended Oakdale schools, graduating in 1996 from Oakdale High School. He participated in track, drama, loved auto shop and wood shop. He played football all four years and in his senior year was selected as the Outstanding Lineman in the Valley Oak League and was also selected to the All-District Modesto Bee team and the Stockton Record All Area team. He was also selected to play in the Lions Club All Star high school football game at Merced College in the summer of 1996. All the while, completing the requirements for the rank of Eagle in the Boy Scouts of America.
During his high school years, Rod developed a fondness for working on and rebuilding his favorite 1956 Ford pickup. He worked for his grandfather Leonard H. Valk on the Valk Ranch in Oakdale and there learned various skills and the ethics of hard work. Late in his senior year, Rod got a job at the new Denny’s restaurant in Oakdale. Rod started as a busboy, then became a server. He liked to share the highlight of his Denny’s career; the evening he got to serve dinner to the San Francisco 49er cheerleading team who had been taking pictures at Knights Ferry for their annual calendar.
Following his restaurant career, he worked for Oakdale Garage and JLG Enterprises. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Rod served a mission in the Denver North Mission. Rod dedicated his life for two years of service to the people of northern Colorado, Wyoming and part of Nebraska.
Upon returning from his mission, Rod worked as a firefighter for the National Forest Service stationed in the Groveland, California district. He worked throughout California as well as in the eastern states. This job eventually led to Rod enrolling at the Modesto Junior College Fire Science Training Center, and as a result led to 14 years of service in the Modesto Fire Department. When not fighting fires and providing service to the community of Modesto; Rod turned his love of music into a DJ business. He provided music to many weddings, parties and school events. His favorite being the music provider at the Oakdale High School events, where he would always perform his rendition of Ice, Ice, Baby!
Rod was a man of great laughter, which accompanied a great smile, sense of humor usually followed by a giant “bear hug.” This became evident during his recent lengthy hospitalization. As a result of Rod’s sister Katie posting a daily report of his progress on Instagram. Nearly 400 responses from the people whose lives he had touched, through his service, kindness and love. Rod will be greatly missed by his family and his great family of friends. Remembrances can be made in his honor to the Rodney Riley Memorial Scholarship at Oakdale Joint Unified School District, 168 South Third Ave., Oakdale, CA 95361.
The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader
The Riverbank (Calif.) News
May 11, 2022