Rutha Mae Behan Riley

Published 11:24 am Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Our beloved Mother, Rutha Mae Behan Riley, was called home to our Lord on Saturday, April 20, 2019.

Born February 8, 1926 to Thomas William and Cora Belle McDaniel Behan, Rutha was a caring, faithful individual who touched the lives of all who knew her.

She was truly a strong woman of faith, who loved our God through her service and fellowship in her church and in her everyday life. She was a longtime member of Old First Orange Baptist Church and became a member of Winfree Baptist Church in 1988. After moving to Montgomery, Texas in 2012, she attended and later became a member of Honea Baptist Church.

She was a strong, competent young lady, when at the age of 15, she moved to New Orleans and worked at both a macaroni factory and a soda shop to be near her Mother who was hospitalized there. After her Mother’s untimely death, Rutha helped care for her three younger brothers, all of whom she loved so dearly.

Rutha was a graduate of Mt. Carmel High School, Class of 1945. After graduation, Rutha moved to Beaumont, Texas, where she worked as a telephone operator. It was at that time she met Ben Riley. After his return from Japan during WWII, they married and over the next 35 years they worked together to raise four loving children.

Rutha was a permanent fixture at church and school functions. As a PTA president, Class Room Mother, VBS organizer or one of the many other areas of involvement, Rutha was totally dedicated to her family in all aspects of their lives.

Sewing and baking were two of Rutha’s most gratifying hobbies. As a very talented seamstress, it was common for one of her girls to wake up to a new dress that Rutha has made overnight. Her delicious pies were requested for school and church mission fundraisers and enjoyed year after year by family, friends, and neighbors. All this while, with a servant’s heart, she cared for her husband during his 14 year illness before his death in 1980.

In 1981, Rutha went to work at First City National Bank in Orange. She was a warm, welcoming face in a position of customer service for over 8 years.

This loving, caring, and supportive nature was carried on to 10 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren, and 5 great-great-grandchildren. Rutha devoted her entire life to her children and continues to influence their lives.

Rutha is preceded in death by her parents; husband, Ben; son, Michael; and two brothers, Murlin Lee and Glen.

Those left to cherish her memory include daughters, Patricia Haynes of Silsbee, Melinda Menefee and husband Luke of Montgomery, and Rebecca Woods of Orange; one brother, Gerald Behan of Hornbeck, Louisiana; grandchildren, Christopher Gilbert, Benjamin Riley, Tray Riley and wife Marilyn, LauraLee Wagner-Capelo and husband Alano, John Wagner and wife Sarah, Jennifer Wagner, Aaron Woods and wife Kelli, Adam Woods and wife Cheré, Jonathon Woods, and Jessica Woods-Bell and husband Larry; great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren; along with many loving nieces, nephews, and friends.

Special thanks to Oasis Hospice for their support and caring guidance during this time of special need and Jordan Monroe, caregiver, for her loving care and companionship. Mother took Jordan into her heart as one of her own grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, April 27, 2019, at Claybar Funeral Home in Orange. Officiating will be Pastor Brad Bickham. Burial will follow at Autumn Oaks Cemetery in Orange.

Visitation will be held prior to the service, beginning at 9:00 a.m.

Serving as pallbearers will be Tray Riley, Aaron Woods, Adam Woods, John Wagner, Jonathon Woods, and Brach Gilbert. Honorary pallbearers will be Luke Menefee, Alano Capelo, Christopher Gilbert, Gerald Behan, Eddie Welch, Von Boudreaux, and Ernest Trujillo.