Alma M. Riley was born on February 28th, 1932, to Ruthie Mae Moore and A.J. Riley in Sunflower, Mississippi. She grew up in Toledo, Ohio, after relocating there with her family. Alma graduated from Waite High School in the spring of 1950 and married Ples A. Gilmore later that year, on October 14, 1950.
Our mother was a loving and devoted wife to our father, Ples, during their 33-year marriage. Together, they had five children, with the oldest born in 1951, and the youngest in 1963. She supported him unconditionally throughout his many military deployments and, in 1960, relocated her young family from the Midwest to Tacoma, Washington, after he was transferred to Ft. Lewis, WA. The beautiful Northwest was where they would make a permanent home for the family, although he continued to be deployed overseas.
A woman of patience and determination, Alma sacrificed for her family and made sure she did everything she could to provide for us. As a working mother, she was the ultimate role model. Whether she was selling Avon, cleaning for a local café, or rising through the civil service ranks to a top position in the US Department of Labor, she did it with dignity and class.
Our mother was raised to be kind, caring, classy, brave, and driven. She was always devoted to her extended family, never forgetting the relatives who gave her unconditional love and support throughout her life. She provided home care for her father-in-law, a home for her mother, looked out for beloved Aunt Sis, and made sure her father was taken care of in Mississippi when he fell ill.
Alma was a woman of faith and a lifelong member of Allen AME Church. She was an original member of the Vashti Circle and active in the Jayne Brame Lay Organization as well as the Stewardess Board. She attended weekly Bible study on Wednesdays and Sunday school every Sunday until she became ill. The last church service attendance before her passing was on January 28, 2024. Her church legacy is that she gave her children and grandchildren a church home to build their own foundation with Christ.
Alma was a kind and generous person who never gave it a second thought to prepare dinner for someone who was shut in even after working a full day and then commuting home from Seattle by bus. She never fussed about going to clean someone’s house or make their bed for them. Going to the commissary and doing things to help others was second nature to her. It was how she was raised.
Alma loved to cook and entertain. Her cooking talent was always on display when entertaining family and friends. Family time was important to our mother, even when we were grown and had children of our own. Hosting special occasions for her family was something she really enjoyed, and her family enjoyed spending time together with her and each other. She loved having us all over for backyard cookouts, a catfish fry, birthday celebrations, and game nights. And of course, the holidays were the most special, where she would spend days cooking and preparing.
Alma was a loving and doting grandmother. The grandkids loved going to grandma’s because she made them feel special with sleepovers that included homemade waffle breakfasts that they remember to this day. The holidays included specially designed Easter baskets and desired Christmas gifts. There were lots of hugs and kisses, opportunities to earn money working in her yard, and all the love a grandma can give. She was there for school events, sports activities, and graduations whenever she could. They were a source of pride for her.
Our mother left this life peacefully on February 5, 2024, just short of her 92nd birthday, after a long illness, to join her father, mother, daughter, ex-husband, and a host of other relatives who preceded her in death. She will be mourned, and her memory will be cherished by her four remaining children: Raquel G. Perkins (Woodrow), Veronica R. Batiste, Gregory L. Gilmore (Wenona), and Geoffrey A. Riley (Greg Mullins), 7 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and 2 great-great-grandchildren, along with a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
Alma’s family would like to thank the staff of St. Joseph’s Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, and all the doctors and nurses across the health care system for the care and support they provided to her over the years. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her memory to the American Cancer Society.

Celebration of Life

Saturday, March 2, 2024, 11am

Allen A.M.E. Church

1223 Martin Luther King Jr. Way

Tacoma, WA 98405