Ode to Sam Riley


Virginia Tech lost a legend last week. Sam Riley, a communications professor, passed away last month and I was absolutely jarred to hear the news.

Professor Riley was witty, cheerful, vibrant, and practically every other positive descriptor you could assign a person. I deliberately sought out his classes and would’ve listened to him read names out of a phone book. He’d proudly call himself a geezer and had mastered the art of dad jokes. He taught to never take yourself too seriously and to not shy away from a little silliness, two pillars I keep close in my life as a writer and as a human. I’m honored to have my work enshrined in his Blog of Fame, and I owe him many thanks for helping me become the writer I am now.

I put a lot of stock in Hunter S. Thompson’s old quote, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a ride!'” Sam Riley definitely skid in broadside.

Thanks for everything, Professor Riley. We’ll miss you.

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