Nick Riley, 39
Nicholas Riley, 39, died suddenly at home on August 2, 2021. That sentence is appalling and horrifying and cannot/ must not/should not be true. Nick arrived on Block Island on day two of his life, and though he was forced to leave during elementary school due to lack of affordable housing, the island remained in his heart always and forever as he returned to its solace and temptations time and time again. He had so many friends here, people who considered him a brother, a son, a warrior.
As an adult, Nick became a phenomenal house painter, so quick and precise, often working with his dad Jim Cashman. For seven years, he lived on Oahu where he became very successful running his own painting company. He loved bringing his family to Hawaii so he could host them lavishly and bring the tropical heat to their festivities. Nick also brought a bunch of his Block Island buddies out to Hawaii, one at a time, giving them a taste of a different island. Making others enjoy their lives was his fondest wish. This past year, Nick achieved one of his greatest desires - spending a whole day immersed in the atmosphere of Bauman Rare Books in NYC. He was a passionate collector of books and was in the process of writing his own.
Nick created a wondrous character bursting with energy and sparkle, who exemplified the person he wanted to be. Family and friends were the recipients of this joyful presence as he prepared bounteous and delicious feasts that appeared as if by magic. Any child in
Nick's presence was bathed in sweet playfulness and affection. He loved his cats. By contrast, his brutal struggle against the whiplash of Bipolar 1 brought him to his knees time and time again. His was a tortured soul, though he hid it well. He longed to return to Hawaii, and he was excited by plans to head out to California and search for treasure, but his greatest wish was for a mental health retreat on Block Island. He knew that was a fantasy, but he was encouraged by the island's recent recognition of and focus on mental health issues.
Nick is survived by his father Jim, his sister Sarah, and brothers, Joshua and Simon, niece Caroline, and an enormous number of people who loved him and were so appreciative of his kindness, generosity, sparkling eyes, laughing spirit. He was predeceased by his sweet mother Eileen, who died in December, 2019. During the years of her dying, Jim and Nick took care of her with tenderness and love. He was also pre-deceased by his lovely grandmother Betty Littlefield Riley (Edith Blane's sister). May Nick's soul rest easy in the knowledge that he made a profound and positive difference in many lives.