Hall of Fame Athlete, Business man and local Black historian
Gerome Riley was born October 18, 1934in Chelsea, Oklahoma to Sylvester and Georgie Riley. Gerome was reared and educated in Chelsea at Paul Lawrence Dunbar School through the 8th grade, prior to transferring to Lincoln School in 1949. He graduated from Lincoln High School in 1953. While in high school, Gerome was an outstanding athlete. He was part of the team that won the State of Oklahoma Class C Basketball Championship. He also excelled in baseball and went on to play on the semi-professional Claremore Clowns baseball team. Gerome was inducted into Claremore’s first Athletic Department’s Hall of Fame in 2018.
Following high school graduation, he joined the Marines and served our country until 1954. Following the Marine Corp, Gerome did construction work for several years prior to going to work for Phillips 66 in 1958. Gerome was a hard worker who progressed throughout his career until becoming a part of management with Phillips in 1985. .
Gerome married Marie Johnson and together they raised 4 children – Gerome Jr, Howard, Stephen and Marlise. Gerome also had another daughter from a previous relationship named Maxine. After retiring from Phillips Petroleum Company in 1995, Gerome started a new career with Verdigris School system where he worked until 2017.
Gerome has always loved history and has spent years collecting memorabilia specific to Claremore’s Black Community. He was instrumental in helping to curate the “Building Heritage, History and Hope” Exhibit at the Claremore Museum of History. He is an active member at Vernon AME Church in Claremore and is a frequent speaker at various historical and athletic events.