Michigan State University

May 17, 2018 : Wallace D. Riley Dies

Jon Harrison
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Wallace D. Riley  of Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan,  husband of the late Justice Dorothy Comstock Riley, one of the founders and president of the Michigan Supreme Court History Society, president of both the Michigan Bar Association and the American Bar Association and a top state advocate for the law profession, died on May 17, 2018.

In 1945 he was graduated first in his class out of 477 from Southeastern High School in Detroit. He accepted an Honor Entrance Scholarship to the University of Chicago, earning a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy in 1947 (and lettered in basketball and baseball when that university still had competitive sports). From the University of Michigan he received the degrees of Bachelor of Business Administration in 1949 and Master of Business Administration in 1952. He received his Juris Doctor degree in 1952 from the University of Michigan Law School. Continuing his studies in law at George Washington University, Wally graduated second in his class in 1954 with a Master of Laws Degree.

Wally was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the JAG Corps of the US Army at the Pentagon. In 1968 he and wife Dorothy, along with George T. Roumell, Jr., founded the firm of Riley and Roumell. He served as president of the State Bar of Michigan from 1972-73 and as president of the American Bar Association from 1983-84. For over 25 years, he was president of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, founded in part by his wife Justice Dorothy Comstock Riley. He served on the Board of Directors of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan from 1992-2002 and again from 2008-2018.

In his practice and professional life he was an advocate for the profession, and was a keen observer and protector of its integrity.  In that role, he was quick to challenge policies that he thought would bring questions against its integrity, including a Supreme Court proposal - made after Ms. Riley resigned from the court - to allow judges to continue fundraising after an election. In recent years, he joined with a number of former Supreme Court justices and others in supporting proposals that would end the practice of nominating candidates for the non-partisan Supreme Court by partisan conventions.

Sources:

Detroit Free Press Obituary.

Wallace D. Riley entry from Gongwer News Services, May 21, 2018.

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