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Ira ‘Dean’ Riley 1940 – 2020

Sad news has just reached us of the death of Dean Riley, the former Grove district manager and sales training manager. He passed away peacefully at the Homewood Retirement Centre, Williamsport, on November 23rd.

Dean Riley was born in Fort Ashby, West Virginia, and attended Frostburg State University followed by the University of Houston. He graduated in 1965 and went on to serve in the United States Marine Corps Reserves.

He initially worked for Grove in the fire ladder and rescue business, at a time when the company still produced fire ladders, farm wagons and tilt-bed truck bodies… as well as cranes. He was involved in the buyout of the Grove fire ladder/rescue platform business in the early 1970s, becoming the president of Ladder Towers Incorporated. He returned to Grove as sales training manager in the late 1970s with the responsibility for training new district managers, organising customer visitors to the factory, sales training courses for dealers and major customers as well as factory based customer events, and was involved in the production of marketing materials.
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Dean Riley

After leaving Grove, he ran a business selling antiques, just one of his many passions. He then went back into the equipment business working for Grove dealers JW Burris and then Anderson Equipment from where he retired in 1999. He is survived by his wife Susan, daughters Leissa and Amy, and son Bruce. He also has seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Dean Riley was certainly a character and was as honest as the day is long. He was always ready to share his thoughts openly – in fact he was completely unable to hide his feelings, but was always upbeat and never lingered too long on any disappointments. He was thoughtful, inciteful, and a great mentor to hundreds of young people, both at Grove and for the number of clubs and associations that he served with as a volunteer. He would have made a brilliant and inspirational teacher. While he may not have had quite the right approach for running a company, that would have been one of his very few failings.

At times he could come across as slightly cavalier in his approach, but he was a ‘can doer’ and nothing was impossible. He was always thinking outside of the box although his unorthodox methods for getting stuff done may not always have endeared him to the powers that be, in fact some considered him to be something of a loose canon and there may have been some basis for this, but every organisation worth its weight needs at least one person like Dean Riley – managing them is perhaps another matter altogether.

He must have caused his immediate marketing services superior, Bert Major, more than a few headaches and high blood pressure, but he was undoubtedly brilliant and full of enthusiasm and he did get things done. If I were to sum up an image of Dean in his prime, it would be Indiana Jones.
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Dean Riley 1978

Dean Riley was a mentor to me during my most formative years although I only worked for him for 18 months, but I am glad and deeply honoured to have known him.

Leigh Sparrow

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, the family has said that it will honour his life at a celebration when it is safe to do so. They have also sent their thanks the nursing staff and aides of the Homewood Retirement Center. Dean requested that his body be donated to medical science.

Memorial donations can be made in his name to the local Habitat for Humanity Washington County Humane Society and/or the
Reach Shelter of Hagerstown.


Rob Ferree
Well said Leigh. Dean was one of those bosses that you never forget. Never a dull moment when he was around. Learn a lot from that guy.

Dec 8, 2020

Sad to hear of Deans's passing - fond memories of our journeys along the East coast in the 80's. He was a great guy - my sincere condolences to his family and friends. Gone but not forgotten.

Dec 8, 2020

I met Dean when I started as a trainee at Grove in 1984. He was District Manager in teh Mid Atlantic region. Everyone like Dean and he always had time for anyone! A sad loss for sure!

Dec 5, 2020

Bill G
Rest in peace Dean.

Dec 4, 2020