DAWSON SPRINGS, Ky. (WEHT)- You don’t have to look very far to see the impact Dudley Riley made on his hometown of Dawson Springs. After all, there’s a bridge named in his honor on KY 109 inside the Hopkins County community.
Living in extraordinary times, Riley lived an extraordinary life- serving his country in World War Two and escaping as a prisoner of war not once, but twice. Riley’s daughters, Pam Henderson and Phyllis Caldwell say he was a POW for over two years, escaping from a German prison camp, fleeing to the Russian front, and then escaping from the Red Army to rejoin the American forces.
After his time in the war, Riley returned home, raised a family, and wrote a book about his life, but it was his time as a prisoner of war that powered him for the rest of his life. Caldwell says his time as a POW made him appreciate freedom even more, adding that he was patriotic and community-minded.
Just before he passed on Monday, Caldwell and Henderson say they got one last special moment with their dad, singing “I’ll Fly Away” with him. Caldwell says he didn’t communicate very well after a stroke, but joining in song with his daughters “was a spark.”
While they were looking forward to celebrating Riley’s 100th birthday in August, Henderson and Caldwell say their dad is in a better place, “walking streets of gold”