Peaceful 11

Tobiah George Heber Riley

May 28, 1970 ~ February 9, 2024 (age 53) 53 Years Old

Tobiah Riley Obituary

With profound sadness, Tracy, Bethany, and Kaelah, announce that their anchor in life, Tobiah Riley, has passed away leaving his three girls utterly broken-hearted. Tobiah was such a uniquely gifted, intelligent, creative, independent, dependable, kind man, husband, and father and now the best of him will shine in his two equally amazing daughters.

Tobiah was born on May 28th, 1970, to a large family in Malakwa, British Columbia. His youth was spent free-range roaming the forests and riverbeds, endlessly jumping off the bridge into freezing moving waters, picking blueberries, playing sports, having wild and fun adventures with his childhood friends, and most importantly building. Young Toby’s world and imagination was spent planning and building forts, a passion that he continued right into adulthood, except the forts turned into a home for his family, the ultimate guy’s shop for him, play forts, playgrounds and custom-built rooms for his daughters, and a highly engineered garden to provide a lifetime of tangible sustenance for his family.

When Tobiah was in high school, not only was he the top student earning the Governor’s General Academic Medal upon graduation, but he also held down a full-time weekend job at the local sawmill and played hockey. His Grade 12 year also held a little surprise for his future self, for a giggly girl who sat behind him in Mr. Heal’s English 12 class would one day become his much-loved wife.

Before Tobiah settled into family life, he was busy. After graduating high school in 1988 (and with a little influence from Top Gun), Tobiah went to Royal Roads Military College as one of the last military classes to attend RRMC. There he switched from the air force to the navy, and after his two years were completed, he went off to Royal Military College in Kingston and completed a Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical and Material Engineering with First Class Honours. The stories of his military college days are legend-worthy, and his daughters never tire of the tales. 

In 1992, as a commissioned naval engineering officer, Tobiah was stationed in Halifax. However, most of his time was spent on the naval ship Terra Nova, as well as several months training in Plymouth, England with the Royal Navy, travelling Europe with his naval buddies, and completing a UN tour off the coast of Haiti. It was there on the ship in Haiti in the depths of the ship’s boiler room that Tobiah received an offer that he couldn’t refuse. The government had trained too many officers for nuclear submarines that were never going to be purchased, so they offered Tobiah a golden ticket out of the navy and back into civilian life. The independent soul didn’t even hesitate and left military life to work in the Alberta oilfields as a field engineer. 

The lifelong learner in Tobiah used this oil patch time not only to work insane hours, but he also carved out enough time to attend University of Alberta to complete a Master of Engineering degree, and then attended University of Calgary for his Master of Business Administration degree. In addition to working and going to university, all the joys of his youth still accompanied him, so he free-ranged Canada: hiking, camping, kayaking, biking, diving, and even hang-gliding. And when he moved to Calgary to take a desk job, he honed his renovations skills on 1905 heritage house in Sunnyside, Calgary. Then that giggly girl, Tracy, from his high school years returned from teaching in Japan and found a place in both his heart and life. They married in 2001, moved to North Vancouver, and a whole new chapter started for Tobiah.

Little Bethany arrived in 2002 and marked the beginning of Tobiah’s greatest achievement: fatherhood.  Knowing how important being rooted in the land would be to his young family, Tobiah moved his wife and wee daughter to Salmon Arm that same year. In 2006, little Kaelah completed our family and Tobiah’s new commission was to unconditionally love his girls. Tobiah never missed one moment with his daughters. He started his own company so that he could work from home, and so his daughters had access to him 24-7.  Tobiah played every game real and made-up with them, taught them how to read and do math, endlessly talked and walked with them, coached literally every ringette and soccer team they had ever been on, he taught them to ride a bike, took them camping, took them on all kinds of amazing trips including backpacking through Europe, he made them special meals, wrote them stories, helped his wife homeschool them, and always held their hand in quiet moments, and provided endless big, embracing hugs. Of all the jobs and roles Tobiah held in his life, being a father was where he shined. 18 (Kaelah) and 21 (Bethany) is far too young to lose the most important man in their lives, but Tobiah gave every moment he had to his daughters, and his endless love will fuel their new life, their Terra Nova, where their Daddy now lives in their hearts. 

Tobiah passed without any of us, including him, knowing that our lives would be profoundly changed in a moment. On a warm sunny afternoon on February 9th, 2024, walking alone on a forest trail, Tobiah passed into a world where he can only talk to us in our hearts, only hold our hands with the warm rays of the sun, and only say he loves us through the memories of his time with us. But we know we were loved, adored, and cared for and death does not change this. We love you, Daddy, and I love you, Tobiah.

Tobiah had a heart of gold yet unbeknownst to all, including himself, his earthly heart was not well. He had suffered in stoic silence a prior heart attack and was suffering from atherosclerotic coronary artery disease. Never one to complain about himself, Tobiah likely read the signs of his heart problems as growing older or over exertion and would have never connected that his golden heart was mere mortal.

The earthly goodbye to Tobiah will be a small private ceremony in a place Tobiah loved at a time that was special to him. 

Tracy, Bethany, and Kaelah Riley are deeply grateful for the community of care that has circled us now and for the many months and years to come as we learn to be the strong independent women Tobiah wanted us to be.

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