There are few like him in the world, let alone in the media.
I can’t begin to fully describe Francis J Patrick O’Riley to you. My stories will be the same as anyone who’s ever met him, worked with him and most importantly, watched him in KWQC.
He’s a great co-worker, storyteller and most importantly, friend to all he’s dealt with over his nearly four decade career.
Right now, Fran Riley needs our prayers and support.
This week, he underwent surgery to remove a tumor on his brain. The doctors think it is the non-cancerous kind. I guess that’s good, but the words “brain tumor” get my attention.
Fran was on a story last week with photojournalist Mike Colon. The pair was on assignment in rural Whiteside County near Morrison, Illinois. Following an interview, Mike took the camera gear out to the KWQC car and was waiting for Fran to join him to head back to the Quad Cities. But the interview subject came out to get Mike, saying, Fran didn’t seem right. Fran was dizzy, couldn’t stand up and was having a little trouble breathing. Fran was taken to the Morrison hospital where the doctors determined he needed to go to Iowa City for further treatment.
There, the doctors confirmed he had a brain tumor. He would have to stay in Iowa City to get ready for surgery. Fran is no stranger to hospitals as he’s been there before to have his heart worked on.
Just like before and now, Fran’s demeanor took over. He’s been in excellent spirits his whole life, including right now.
If there’s ever a case for “laughter is the best medicine,” Fran would never so much as have a headache.
Fran is a rare breed. He’s from Boston, Massachusetts and loves living in the midwest and he’s a good guy reporter. He’s been in the QC for almost, gulp, 40 years. He started as a weekend sports anchor at WHBF-TV before he was later named sports director.
Following the one of thousands shown the door at Channel 4, Fran landed right side up across the river at KWQC-TV6 News. Fran reported and anchored for several years, anchored Saturday morning’s 630a and 9a newscasts. Those shows are memories right now, but Fran is not.
Mr. Riley’s been asked to cover every type of story. His best, are the features that put him in the middle of the singing valentine’s or school children’s good project. But he could knock a breaking news live shot out of the park with his clipboard and tape recorder in hand, all the while keeping his hair perfect.
The stories I remember most are Fran’s Saturday morning stories. After he would anchor the 9a news, he would head out, more times than not, to a parade. Everyone loves a parade, including Fran. He would sing Christmas carols at the Festival of Trees parade, the monster mash during Halloween parade and kiss the blarney stone, breaking out his heritage’s hits for St. Patrick’s Day. He’s be hanging out at the Bix, or a carnival or just plain laughing with people while putting his arm around them.
When I would arrive for the evening weekend shift, Fran and I would talk about the Cardinals or Cubs and usually did a little play-by-play with each other. We did this for six years and it was one of the best things about the job.
I’ve laughed with this guy during and now after my time in Davenport. I can hear his laugh today and have thought about it a lot this week. We were a family at 805 Brady Street.
He’s got help now in providing smiles all over the Quad Cities. His wife, Marilyn, is a bright ray of sunshine herself. Marilyn and Fran are two incredible people together who have been through a lot in their lives apart and now are dealing with another tough chapter, together.
There was a nice story by John Marx of the Argus/Dispatch about Fran. Great work, John. Here’s the link to that story. (The surgery was Thursday and was going to be at least an 8 hour procedure).
The doctors said they would only have to make a smaller cut to get to the tumor. So, his blond hair should stay and will soon be blown about in a live shot.
My best to Fran Riley, KWQC TV6 News.