Paul Francis Riley Jr. took his final breath on January 13, 2022, at his home in Middleboro, MA.
Born in Boston on August 13, 1954, to his beloved, late mother, Joan Kathleen McPhee, Paul
was the second-born in his family. Paul was predeceased by his father, Paul Sr., stepfather, Frank,
and brother, Steven.
Paul is survived by his siblings: Barbara Howard (John), Diane Arcand (George), Carol McPhee,
and Jack McPhee; his five children: Paul Jr. (Tammy), Barbara, Jonathan (Kristin), Michael
(Ashley), and Lauren; seven nieces and nephews, as well as five granddaughters. He leaves
behind his loving wife, Toni, with whom he spent 45 years of his life.
Paul’s siblings hold decades of memories of their brother, who was Southie tough and loved to
talk to anyone who cared - and sometimes were forced - to listen. His children would oftentimes
wake up on the weekends to hear his booming voice downstairs on the phone talking to his
siblings about life, what is on the menu for the weekend, and reminiscing.
Paul was one of the hardest working people this world has ever seen. From his early days in
South Boston working odd jobs and earning a dollar wherever he could find it to provide for his
family, Paul eventually worked his way into the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and
Allied Workers—Local 33– which was a crowning achievement in his life and a point of pride
that he was quick to boast about. His work ethic was contagious and carried over to his children.
In fact, his propensity to gloat - which he joyfully expressed as “bragging” when describing it to
others - represented the utter pride he exhibited for his children for any achievements, whether it
be starting their own business, doing well in school, or having beautiful children of their own. He
exuded that same pride throughout all parts of his life.
Despite having never traveled to Ireland himself, Paul’s Irish pride was prominently displayed
every St. Patrick’s Day in the form of two large Irish flags - one with the country’s colors, and
the second of the country’s geographical map - much to the chagrin of his neighbors, Italian wife,
and mother-in-law. Being the proud patriarch that he was, he took charge of making dinner even
after working 12-hour shifts. Thanksgiving dinner will never be quite the same without his
presence, and perhaps more influentially, the outstanding broccoli bake dish for which he never
fully divulged the recipe. The things he kept close - memories, recipes, and tales from his past -
were taken with him to the grave.
Broccoli bake and turkey dinner aside, perhaps the most daunting challenge of his life was
overcoming a battle with cancer. After finding a lump in his throat, Paul was eventually
diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and was given only a matter of months to live. He undertook
aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and at the same time lost several family
members – losses which he was never truly able to resolve in his mind. However, his fight to
survive and be present for his family compelled him to push forward. 22 years later, Paul served
as a beacon of success for cancer treatment. Until the day he died, he was eager to credit the
amazing doctors at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for being able to spend as much time in this
world as he did. His fight for survival, despite near certain odds of dying, has served as an
inspiration to us all for over two decades.
Paul loved all things Boston sports, playing racquetball (he would always say how important it
was to “work up a sweat everyday”), working hard to earn a living, snowstorms - and shoveling
even when he claimed he didn’t, “sipping” while listening to music - with the oldies and classic
rock representing his glory days. He loved John Wayne, and Clint Eastwood, and playing action
movies that he would play so loudly it would be heard in every room of the house. And he loved
his family most. He was a wealth of knowledge, and seemingly knew something about
Without this force of a human being in our lives, those who love him most would not have a
foundation on which to build their own history. The man was far from perfect - and would never
let us forget it - but his work ethic, strength, guidance, and intuitiveness helped lead his family
through the good times and the bad.
Paul was a leader. He was warm. He was tough. He was hard. Paul was an inspiration in so many
ways, yet always found a way to be selfless and uncomfortable when talking about himself. I will
never forget our conversations and will forever miss his stories. The breadth of knowledge he
possessed by simply living life to its fullest could fill books.
We would be remiss not to mention the fact that Paul was adamant his family be not burdened
with exceptional funeral costs, instead opting to be cremated, and have his ashes spread back to
nature in the White Mountains. We will honor his wishes.
A mass will be held to honor Paul Riley at St. Francis Xavier in Weymouth, MA., on Saturday,
February 26th. We welcome all friends, family, and acquaintances of Paul who wish to attend to
join us in a celebration of life for this incredible man.
You will be missed, Dad. We hope you are spending good time with your parents, brother,
granddaughter, and all of those who you lost over the years. Rest In Peace.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Paul Francis Riley, Jr., please visit our floral store.