Dutch Riley’s (’48) day of rest is Monday. But by Tuesday he’s working again with his tools – a Bible, commentary, and other reference works. He’s a Sunday School teacher at Temple Baptist Church in Columbia, SC.
Riley, now 71, has just begun his 50th year of teaching in Sunday School. Isn’t he tired? “No, I enjoy it,” he said. “I learn more than the students. And as long as the Lord give me the strength, I’ll keep on doing it.”
His home church was Ridgeville, about 30 miles from Charleston. His mother, Alma, taught Sunday School and was the church librarian. His father, Henry, was Sunday School superintendent for 26 straight years and taught until he died.
Riley, a Christian since he was 12, rededicated his life to Christ in 1945 and his discharge from the Army. In 1946 he enrolled at North Greenville College. “This was the beginning of my Sunday School teaching,” he said. “I was asked to teach a class of college freshman at North Greenville [now Tyger] Baptist Church.”
He also graduated from the University of South Carolina and began a government career in public health. But he continued to teach. He has taught at his home church in Ridgeville, at Park Street and Beulah in Columbia, and at Temple for the past 31 years. He also taught at First Baptist, Beaufort, and at an interdenominational church in Puerto Rico.
Riley starts preparing his lessons early in the week to help him apply them to daily living. “I want to get the class involved in what’s happening,” he said. His introductions are brief. “They give me about 12 minutes to get them cranked up,” he said.
The veteran teacher uses music to enliven his lessons. Often he plays one of this 18 harmonicas as a lead-in to the lesson.
Does he know B.I. Epting, another harmonica player of some reputation? “He and I were in school together at North Greenville,” Riley said. “In fact, he and I played a harmonica duet once at Temple.”
Written by Don Kirkland, editor of the Baptist Courier, and reprinted with permission from the Baptist Courier in the April 1996 issue of the North Greenville College Alumni Newsletter.