portrait picture for Thomas A. Riley

Wake:Wednesday, April 4, from 4:00 to 8:00 PM at the Collins Funeral Home.Service:Thursday, April 5, 10:00 AM at the First Congregational Church, Park Street Norwalk. Interment:Following services in Riverside Cemetery.

Thomas A. Riley

December 17, 1938 ~ April 1, 2012


Thomas Alfred Riley, beloved husband, father, brother and retired Norwalk Police Lieutenant, joined his Lord and Savior on April 1, 2012 when he passed away at St. Vincent’s Hospital.

The Bridgeport resident and husband of Deborah Lee Miller-Riley entered eternal rest after 73 years of providing joy and happiness to everyone he knew and touched.

Born December 17, 1938 in New Rochelle, N.Y., Tom was the oldest of five children born to Danella Frances Pugsley and Thomas Witfield Riley. He graduated from New Rochelle High School, where he was a 6-foot-5 all-state basketball player and also played football and competed in track.

He attended Oswego State Teachers College, but all roads led to the Norwalk Police Department where he joined the force on Sept. 1, 1962, and was at the time one of the few Black officers to serve in the city. Tom rose through ranks from patrolman, to detective in 1972, to sergeant to 1980, and finally to lieutenant in June 1983 until his retirement in May 1987. He was commended numerous times for outstanding police work.

During his quarter of a century with the NPD, the man known as “Big Tom” was a mentor to many, a big brother to others, and a father figure to some as he touched countless lives with his generosity, sincere concern for others and his desire to help each one become a better person.

“Tom and I worked together in Patrol, Tom and I worked together in the Detective Bureau, and when he retired I was a lieutenant with him,” Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling said. “I learned during my first years as a police officer so much from Tom and had so much respect for him.

“Two people really influenced me: My brother Richard, who was a police officer, and Tom Riley. In my mind, Tom was everything a police officer was meant to be. Tom loved his job, he loved people, and he was perhaps Norwalk’s first community police officer before community policing ever existed, In looking through his personal file, it could be an instructional manual on how to be an exceptional police officer and a caring human being. He was a good role model for young officers.”

Fred “Moose” Miller, the former head of the Detective Bureau, also had words of high praise for a former colleague.

“I brought him into the Bureau and we spent a long time together. We became very close, but he never addressed me with anything but ‘Captain,’ ” Miller recalled. “He was a good man and he did his job. The thing about him was he was a gentle guy. He was an uncle to all my children. He’s always been what a cop is all about.”

“It was evident he was proud to be a member of the Norwalk Police Department team,” Rilling added. “His smile would light up a room and he could bring calm to any situation with a joke or a smile. And if that didn’t work, his size didn’t hurt.

“He was a mountain of a man with the heart of a lamb.”

Following his retirement, Tom started a successful private investigation company in the 1990s from which he recently retired. At the time of his passing he was a part-time assistant manager for Pepper Street Storage Center in Monroe, where he developed many new friendships.

Tom had many passions, but none bigger than fishing. He would spend his days off navigating the waters of Long Island Sound in search of new places to fish. In fact, he began collecting fishing poles at tag sales from the time he was a young boy and would repair them and give them away to one of his buddies or just add them to his huge collection. In his later years, he also became a dog lover.

In addition to his wife, also a former Norwalk police sergeant, Tom Riley leaves behind to cherish his wonderful memory two daughters, Gloria Riley-Rodriguez and her husband Keith Gaillaird of North Haven, and Navy Lt. Catherine Elaine Riley and her husband Earl Gadoy of Florida; five grandchildren, Thomas (Brandon) Riley, Chrysten Riley, Keyanna Godoy, Earl G. Godoy Jr., and Joycelyn Godoy; and two great grandchildren, Logan Riley and Starr Riley.

He is also survived by two sisters, Elaine P. Boone and her husband Robert of Mount Vernon, Laura Lynn Riley of Mount Vernon, and a brother, James E. Riley of New Rochelle. He was predeceased by a brother, Reginald Riley.

The family will receive friends at Collins Funeral Home, 92 East Avenue, on Wednesday, April 4, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m..

Services will take place Thursday at 10:00 a.m. at the First Congregational Church on the Green, Park Street, Norwalk. Interment will follow in Riverside Cemetery, 81 Riverside Ave., Norwalk.

  1. Dear Deborah Lee,

    The times we were with Tom at the lake made a special impression on us about how truly caring, encouraging and generous he was. Some people you meet in life feel like they were there forever and, for us, that was how we felt about him. It takes two in a marriage to make and allow those deeply humane characteristics to blossom where they did. We thank you for that. May the Good Lord reign big in your life and comfort you as only He knows the depth of your heart.

    With love,
    Ben and Darraugh

    April 3, 2012
    Ben and Darraugh Cianfichi -
  • Deborah Lee,

    I just heard of Tom’s passing. I’m was very sad to hear of it. He was a wonderful person and always made a point to say hello at water trials or at shows. I know he will be greatly missed in your family, but I know he will be missed by many of us who were used to seeing him with you. I still remember the first time we brought Phoebe for her photo with Santa and Tom was one of the few people Phoebe warmed to quickly! You and your family are in my thoughts during this difficult time.

    April 3, 2012
    Samantha Bell -
  • From the Skeeter Family. We were sad to hear of uncle Tom’s passing he was, and always will be a wonderful man.

    April 3, 2012
    Skeeter Family -
  • The heart remembers most what it has loved best. May the many memories comfort you and bring you peace.
    at this time of loss, may you find comfort in happy memories and in knowing others sympathize and care and how strange it was that our paths crossed and how you ;loved Tom and how we grew to know and share our love with you and Tom, and how we now share in your loss. In the midst of your sadness please know you are held in the light of so many who love you and will miss Tom. Together you made a better world for so many……both two legged and four legged. Don and Esmee

    April 4, 2012
    Don and Esmee Grauer -
  • To all who knew and loved Tom,

    The measure of a life well-lived cannot be judged by ones possessions but rather through the lives they touched and the sorrow they leave behind. I can confidently say that Tom’s indeed was a life well-lived.

    April 4, 2012
    Phil Mawson -
  • To the Riley family,
    Tom was so kind when he called me last year when Terry passed away and I was glad to hear from him. I am so sorry to hear of his passing. Although we lost touch over the years, he was a great guy and I have very fond memories of the times Terry and I spent with him. May God protect and keep you in his arms during this terrible time.

    April 4, 2012
    Pat Dougherty -
  • Debborah Lee,
    Tom was truly one of a kind. Memories remain fresh in my mind of the time I spent on the force with this wonderful man. He was always there for everyone. He will be missed by all. His life touched so many of us.

    All My Special Love

    Dan Reilly

    April 4, 2012
    Dan Reilly -
  • A wonderful man. Wishing peace, hope and strength to all who are hurting with his passing.

    April 4, 2012
    Ellen Story -
  • Please accept our most heartfelt sympathies for your loss. Our thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.


    Maxine Burgess-Bracey and Family

    April 4, 2012
    Maxine Bracey -
  • Tom Reilly ,along with Jim Adams, Marco, and other Norwalk Officers taught me what it was to be a good cop: a mission to help others, protecting those in need, honesty, and a willingness to learn. Tom has a big place in our memory……………..

    ron malone
    WPD COP retired
    Westport CT

    April 5, 2012
    Ron Malone -
  • i really want to say that, tom was my best friend and he would do anything for anybody but, one thing he was a true friend who in my heart i am going to miss may you rest my friend, you sure are going to be missed.

    April 5, 2012
    janette santiago -
  • My heart felt sympathy goes out to the Reilly family. I meet Tommy over 40 years ago through the Police Dept. and from that time on I knew I had a friend I could count on. Over the years we lost touch but we would run into each other now and again and he always made me feel that time had stood still. He was a wonderful man. I will cherish all my memories of his freindship. My God’s promise of eteernal life bring you peace.

    April 5, 2012
    Betty Chouinard Lugo -
  • Hi Deb

    We were all so sad to here about Tom’s passing…..As you know we all loved him and respected him so very much…Both of you are like family to all of us…… Our prayers and thoughts will always be with you….
    God Bless, Tony and Marie, and all the Fieldstone Family…..


    April 8, 2012
    Tony Genovese -
  • Dear Sarg, (as we called you) so sorry to hear about your husband’s passing.We were some of the lucky ones who got to know him,he truly was a gentle GIANT.
    He loved us all at Serafina’s and we loved him back.He always made sure he said hi and
    took the time to ask about everyone.We will also miss him.
    Our thoughts are with you,take good care.
    Angelina Di Meglio

    April 9, 2012
    Angelina Di Meglio -
  • I had the pleasure of working with Tom at BrienMcMahon High School for several years. When ever we needed his assistance he was there and in a very tactful way he could get any student to calm down and go with him. He taught us alot about how to handle difficult situations and still be a gentlemen. He was a teachers teacher and always supported us. Thanks for all the lessons. Keep things straight upstairs.

    April 10, 2012
    Bruce LeVine Mellion President Norwalk Federation of Teachers -
  • tommy and i go back in many ways. brewster camp, boy’s club basketball and just friends growing up. all the way he was a great friend and a great person. i’m sorry he’s gone but more importanly, i will miss my good friend.

    April 10, 2012
    robbie bradshaw -
  • Tom was a great man and an inspiration in my community. Growing up in SONO he kept me out of a lot of trouble. I was always terrified of getting into trouble and then having him find out about it. I always wanted to stay on the straight and narrow because I knew he would be watching. You know the interesting thing about life is the impact our existence has on others and the influence and direction we bring to those searching for the right path. Tom was a guidepost on my path and I continue to be influenced by his direction. God Bless the family, you have my deepest condolences.
    Kevin D. Patrick, V.P. Research & Corporate Development SJI, Philadelphia, PA September 3, 2013

    September 3, 2013
    Kevin D. Patrick -
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