Most Excellent Grand High Priest

A tremendous loss for our masonry occurs when an companion releases his mortal coil and enters that house not made with hands. It is with great sadness that we issue the following report.

G.H.P. Phillip Melancthon Riley
Most Excellent Grand High Priest

GHP Year: 1906 - 1907
Home Chapter: Cleburne No. 100
Birth Date: August 10, 1856
Death Date: June 14, 1922



Rev. P. M. Riley, D. D., was born in Kentucky, Aug. 10, 1856. When only an infant he came with his parents to Texas, where his whole life was spent. He was educated at Trinity University, graduating with distinction in 1879. He was ordained to the ministry in the Cumberland Presbyterian church--in which he served for more than a quarter of a century. In the course of his ministry in that communion, Dr. Riley served for many years at Jefferson and Cleburne. At one time he was elected Moderator of the Synod of Texas, and later was made president of the Board of Trustees of Trinity University. In appreciation of his marked ability as a minister and executive officer of the institution, his Alma Mater conferred on him the honorary degree of "Doctor of Divinity," which honor all his later career amply justified. When the Cumberland Presbyterian church merged with the Presbyterian church, U.S.A., in the year 1904, [sic: partial merger in 1906] Dr. Riley chose rather to cast in his lot with the M.E. Church, South, in which he had an active and meritorious career covering a period of fifteen years--during which he served Mansfield, Elm Street--Waco, Grandview, Rice, Granbury and Glenrose. Three years ago, this November, he was granted the superannuated relation, and a few months later was elected superintendent of the Masonic Home at Arlington, which position he held continuously to the time of his death, June 14, 1922.

Dr. Riley was an ardent and honored member of the Masonic order for more than forty years. In 1906 he was elected Grand High Priest of the Royal Arch chapter of Texas, and for several years he served as chairman of the Committee on Fraternal Correspondence.

In the year 1880, he was married to Miss Josie G. Harrison, at Columbus, Texas, and the union proved to be a happy one. They were ever a joy and blessing, each to the other, and their mutual love and confidence were always constant and inspiring.

All of their seven children are still living. They are Mrs. Finis K. Farr of Cincinnati, Ohio; Rev. P. E. Riley, editor Texas Christian Advocate, Dallas, Texas; Charles R. Riley, Houston, Texas; Mrs. L. L. Price, Periton, Texas; Mrs. E. C. Hawkins, Ennis, Texas; Misses Josephine and Mary Riley, Forth Worth, Texas and his wife, Mrs. Josie G. Riley, of Ennis, Texas. The devoted wife and all the chidlren were at the bedside when the end came.

They who live well, die well. And Dr. Riley was no exception to this rule. His death was triumphant because he life had been victorious. During all his ministry of forty-three years, he was dominated by a single purpose, to preach Christ. The Christ he knew personally and experimentally, he preached and proclaimed as the one hope of a lost world. And the personality of his Lord was as real to him as was his own. His faith was not vague or hazy, but definite and fixed. He did not hold the truths concerning Jesus loosely, but rather gripped them with the certainty of one who had thought them clear through. There were no doublts nor misgivings weighty enough to disturb the equilibrium of his faith; for he was a man who proved all things and held fast that which he found true and good.

Dr. Riley was no mean theologian. Essentially, the whole field of Metaphysics and Christian Doctrine was familiar to him; having carefully gone over it again and again. Not only was he at home with the metaphysician and theologican, but he was equally at ease among men and women of letters. Some of the old masters were his constant companions. His keen, incisive mind revelled in learning. He was a diligent student from his earliest intellectual awakening down to the end of his busy life. He took life seriously, and dedicated himself to all that was best, both in thought and action.

With all his endowments and acquisitions, Dr. Riley as a modest man. There was nothing about him that smacked of egotism. He never advertised his wares nor pushed himself forward. He must have been conscious of both his innate and acquired ability, and yet it was manifest to all who knew him, that he never thought more highly of himself than he should have thought, but that he rather thought soberly, recognizing that God had dealth out to him both the measure of his faith and intellectual acumen. In fact, he seemed to have well-nigh mastered the fine, Christian art of forgetting self, and in all matters of honor and advantage, preferring others.

Dr. Riley was one of the gentlest souls the writer ever knew. He would not, willingly, have wounded the feelings of a baby, nor, wantonly, have crushed the commonest flower. He was also the soul of courtesy, and both these fine traits were constantly manifest in his family, with his congregation, among his brethren and toward all men.

The elements of patience and fortitude were also strong in him, proving themselves invaluable assets during the long period of weakness and suffering just preceding his demise.

In all matters essential to Christian manhood, as well as service to God and his generation, Dr. Riley was amply tried and never found wanting.

A good and really great man, in the person of Rev. P. M. Riley, D.D., is gone from our militant ranks, and well may we all say, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his."

[Source: "Journal of the Central Texas Conference," Methodist Episcopal Church, South, November 15, 1922, pages 81-82]