HERNANDO

This is no ordinary story about a man who lived and died in Mississippi. My father-in-law was no ordinary man. Those who had the privilege of knowing him, knew him well. Eugene Riley, 76 of Hernando, never met a stranger. He always had stories to tell, some might be as big as the Eiffel Tower or some as bittersweet as the one of his siblings snuggling up to keep warm on a winter night and waking up to their blanket frozen stiff.  Many knew Eugene as a man true to his word, who would give you the shirt off his back. I think I can safely say almost everyone who knew him got a taste of his wit. Eugene loved to catch you off guard with a sassy remark. There were many times that he should have come with a warning label and you, your Depends [undergarments]. He loved the art of a good prank and loved to pull them off even more. And cook, I have heard people say that his chicken and dressing was the best in the South. And when God gave out green thumbs, Eugene got two of them. Others may have known him as “Gas Man,” who they could call at home on a winter’s night, when their tanks were empty or furnace would not light. Eugene was always up to the challenge when help was needed. That happened to be the most touching quality he instilled in his three children, Laurie, Buddy and Paula. He taught them to give without asking for anything in return, to treat others with the same respect regardless of their background or financial status. Eugene “Paw-Paw” taught his grandchildren Grace, Paisley, Price, Emma, Evan and Carson to take life by the horns, or ears and when “Johnson’s old gray mule” bucks you off, to laugh and climb right back on Paw Paw’s leg. They learned that life is too good to waste and so is a good watermelon fresh out of the sun. Paw-Paw will always be their Hero and taught them true love is unconditional. Although, plenty of kids can say they grew up on Fogg Road, most did so at Eugene’s. He always left the front door open and porch lights on, where any wary teens could find refuge. My Father-in-law worked hard and loved hard. He knew what it felt like to go hungry and he made sure no one else ever had to. He taught me that no matter your situation, everyone deserves a second chance. He showed me that even if the waters get deep, that love runs much deeper. Lastly, that we all deserved to be loved, even if we refuse to believe it and showing it is better than saying it. Eugene would say, “Y’all come on down with me to the poor house,” which meant you were welcome at his house anytime. This being his most honest statement, because he gave all he had to the people he loved. Eugene leaves behind his wife Thelma of 45 years. Services will be held Saturday 7-21-18  from 11 a.m. till 1 p.m. at Brantley Phillips in Hernando with Funeral immediately to follow.  Reception at Oak Grove Baptist Church. We will never replace a man larger than life itself, but Eugene made sure to leave us with a good example.