Wanda's Story

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Wanda McLin Riley was born in Rogers, Texas on Nov. 24, 1938. She attended grade school and high school in Weatherford, and graduated from Weatherford High school in 1957. During her years in Weatherford, she lived at the Castle on the Hill, also known as The Texas Pythian Home. The Pythian Home for children was owned and operated by the Grand Lodge Knights of Pythias of Texas. At the home, Wanda and her brother Billy Herman became the favorites of many and her second family with the Horstman's began. At the home, Wanda formed a bond with dozens of other boys and girls that continues today as countless girls still refer to her as their "big sister" from the home. Wanda was a letterman in basketball and it was at the home where her calling to become a nurse was born.
After leaving Weatherford and with the blessing and encouragement of Hugo and Lina Horstman, Wanda went to Dallas to attend the St. Paul School of Nursing. It was at St. Paul where she met and started her next family with the Riley's and where she met her lifelong friend and sister, Kathleen Anne Riley Christopherson. Wanda was a nurse's nurse and rose quickly to become a favorite of the staff and physicians at the St. Paul hospital. Shortly after becoming a Registered Nurse she advanced to become a head nurse on the floor, from there began what would become her lifelong service to others in need.
Wanda was married to Terry Owen Riley in 1964 and her son Kevin was born in February of 1965. As the story goes, Wanda worked her full shift at the hospital on the day Kevin was born. The family remained in Dallas until a move took them to Houston and a new career at Gulf Oil began. Wanda practiced as an occupational nurse in the medical department at Gulf and then Chevron until her retirement. During those years, her life was devoted to providing for and raising Kevin and then to her patients and many friends and family. Her life was a selfless one, punctuated by a commitment to the needs of others. Sacrifice and the steadfast desire to serve those in need of her compassion were the hallmark characteristics that defined her life as a mother, a sister, a nurse and as a friend to so many. She had a smile and ease to laughter that put the sick at ease, comforted the weary and that reminded all of her friends and family that she loved without judgment and she cared for all in need without concern for herself.
After retirement from the Oil companies, Wanda continued to practice her calling in nursing by providing patient care to those in nursing homes and in urgent care centers in Houston. She finally decided that it was time to return to Dallas and her family so she and her beloved puppies left Houston to go back to Dallas.
Retirement to her friends and family was a blessing; new friends were made and a circle of angels came into her life that remained with her until her final moments on earth. Wanda loved her friends and family more than life itself and her beloved dogs became the center of a quiet but meaningful life that was brought too soon to an end by cancer. Her battle with the disease was shared step by step with Kathleen as they both suffered through the turmoil and indignities that the disease can bring. Each in their own way, they borrowed something from the other to fashion a life of purpose and compassion; their families looked upon them with awe; the strength of Christian faith, love and hope was personified by them both.
Wanda was preceded in death by her parents, W.R. and Ruth McLin. She is survived by her son and daughter in law, Kevin and Melissa Riley of Houston. Her brother and sister in law, Billy Herman and Betty Ruth McLin of Weatherford. Her many nieces and nephews that called her Aunt Wanda; Kellie and Joanna, Ken, Wanda, Deanie, Kenneth, Amie, Rachel, Barbara, Brett, Casey, Kelly, Ricky, Scott, Kaleigh and Brianna. She was a sister in the truest definition of the word to Jan Christopherson, Patricia Riley, Michael Riley, Theresa Ritchey-Riley and Eileen Johnson-Riley. Her circle of family included so many children that loved her as an Aunt and grandmother including Jetsy, Patty, Claudia and the entire Avila family.
The last family she made was the circle of angels that came into her life after retirement to Dallas. A group of mothers, daughters and friends, devoted to their dogs, to walks in the woods and to each other. For these ladies, and for all that they did for mom, her family is eternally grateful to Martina, Lori, Evelyn, Mary, Susanna and Kelly.
In lieu of flowers and tears, donations are encouraged to be made in Wanda's name to The Texas Pythian Home.
Published on April 17, 2017
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