Dr. Cecilia Osorio Riley of Albuquerque, New Mexico, passed away peacefully on Sept. 13, 2022 surrounded by her family and best friend who love her deeply. Cecilia was born in Pacho, Cundinamarca, Colombia, the daughter of Delfina Fernández and Pacífico Osorio. She is survived by her adoring husband Merle, daughter Natalie and son-in-law Bill Patz of Albuquerque, son Kevin and daughter-in-law Anne Riley of New Orleans, and sister Solita and brother-in-law Alfred Klein of Bogotá, in addition to numerous extended family members in the U.S. and Colombia.
Cecilia grew up in the small town of Pacho; she shared many beautiful memories of her family and friends while growing up there. She then attended parochial boarding school in Bogotá with her sister Mathilde. Her family moved to Bogotá soon after, escaping the revolutionary violence in Colombia. Cecilia followed in her father’s footsteps by pursuing a career in dentistry. She obtained her degree from the prestigious Javeriana University in Bogotá, Colombia. She had her own private practice in Bogotá until her marriage in 1966 to graduate student Merle Riley who was studying at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, where they met. Their marriage in Bogotá was a double wedding ceremony with her sister Mathilde who married Robert Buck, also of Caltech. Cecilia is predeceased by five siblings; Beatriz Sanchez, Sofía Rodriguez, Fernando Osorio, Álvaro Osorio, and Mathilde Huff.
Once in the United States, Cecilia worked for a brief time as an assistant to the well-known Dr. Herbert Schilder in Boston. Cecilia and Merle moved to Albuquerque where he took on a job at Sandia Labs. Soon after, she became consumed with the dedication of being a mother to her two children.
One of Cecilia’s greatest pleasures was traveling and visiting new places. Among them were living in Pasadena, California while Merle was at Caltech and living in Boston, Massachusetts during his post-doctoral studies at Harvard. She also enjoyed visiting Waterford and Marietta, Ohio where Merle’s family lives, and many trips to Europe, especially with her best and lifelong friend Maria de la Torre, with whom she shared many adventures. Additionally she enjoyed trips to Quebec and Vancouver, as well as having a guided tour of historic locations in New Mexico by Sheriff Pat Garrett’s son Jarvis and his wife (and Cecilia’s good friend) Graciela. She visited Germany and Czech Republic during Kevin’s marriage and studies there, and several trips to Colombia to visit family.
Cecilia’s family is quite academically oriented, which was a source of great pride to her. Husband Merle graduated Magna Cum Laude (ΦΒΚ) from Marietta College, received a PhD from Caltech, and was a post-doctoral appointee at Harvard Department of Physics and Astronomy. Daughter Natalie Marie Riley-Patz of Albuquerque has a Masters of Science in Social Work from University of Texas-Austin and is on staff in the Emergency Department at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Albuquerque. Her husband Bill has his Masters in Physician Assistant Studies or (MPAS) and has been practicing medicine at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center for the past twelve years. Son Kevin Eugene Riley is a tenured Associate Professor of Chemistry at Xavier University in New Orleans and has a PhD from Penn State. His wife Anne Riley has an MBA and is Assistant Department Chair of Business Studies at Delgado Community College in New Orleans. Her niece Suzanne Buck Howard MA is the former chairman of Modern Languages at Albuquerque CNM and nephew John Buck BFA is the art preparator at MIT in Cambridge, MA. Cecilia also has many other nephews, nieces, and cousins who have pursued higher education in different disciplines throughout the country and abroad.
The greatest joys of Cecilia’s life were her children and grandchildren. Grandchildren Olivia and Connor Riley (New Orleans) and Christopher (San Diego) and Caroline Patz (Los Angeles) were always treasured by her. She was a lifelong student of French and was a member of the Alliance Française. She also was an extremely talented artist. She enjoyed painting and firing china, in addition to painting oil and watercolor on canvas. She adored flowers and spending time in her beautiful garden with her family. Services for Cecilia will be held at the end of December 2022.