Obituary of William Edwin Riha II
William Edwin Riha Jr.
In early 2021, Bill wrote this reflection of his life:
I was born on September 15, 1943 to William and Grace Riha. My dad spent most of his life giving to our
community, as a policeman and later, chief. He started our local rescue squad, little league, and youth
guidance council. My mom was a teacher most of her life, although she did start the first nursery school
in our county. I lived all my life, until my marriage, in the same house in Milltown, NJ. My folks lived all
their lives in that house, except for their first year of marriage.
I married my best friend and first true love in 1966. Joan Murphy was a great girl who I met through
mutual friends in high school. Who would have guessed that we would still be together after 55 years of
marriage. Married life always had ups and downs, but we always had the ability to share the load
equally. The best highs were the births of our son, Bill in 1968 and our daughter, Jennifer, in 1973. Of
course, their marriages and children’s birth are right up there as well. Bill and Jenn were able to find
terrific mates as lovers, friend, and spouses. Bill married Janet Zifchak in 1997 and Jennifer married Mark
Dettlinger in 2000. Bill and Janet have two daughters, Emily born in 1998 and Katie born in 2000. Jenn
and Mark have two boys, Matt born in 2003 and Brian born in 2005. I have been known to say this
before, but Joan and I are immensely proud of our children and families. They all do a great job of
treating others with respect and humanity, try to do their best, and, in their own ways, give back to their
communities. They say that it is not the things you have accumulated over a lifetime, but the people you
have affected. I am confident that our family will continue to help others long after I am gone.
I have always felt that there was more for me to learn. I enjoyed New Brunswick High School for the
teachers, student diversity, and athletics. Moving on to Rutgers as an Engineering student was a change.
I had my high school learning habits and quickly found myself majoring in Agricultural Research. Science
was a draw. In my senior year, I was exposed to Food Science and loved it. So, after graduation in 1965, I
was lucky to get a research assistance in Food Science for my MS in 1969 and Ph.D. in 1972. I also
completed my Army active-duty requirement which was from ROTC as an undergraduate. Did that in
1970 at Ft. Lee, VA.
Graduating with Food Science degrees, I had often thought about feeding the world. However, with a
family, feeding them became more important. In 1972, Joan, young Bill and I made a big move to
Southern California. I took a product development job with Hunt-Wesson Foods. It was a chance for our
family to grow on its own. Tough at first, but over time we enjoyed living in Huntington Beach. Jennifer
was born there. However, I was always a little restless, wanting to do more and learn more. Recruiters
called and we moved closer to NJ. Took a job in 1976 as Food Science manager for Cadbury in Hazleton,
PA. As a new startup, this was not only a new technology but a new business to learn. Cadbury bought
Peter Paul in 1978 and we moved again to Cheshire, CT. I was not happy at Peter Paul and when Pepsi
offered me a job in 1980, we moved to Ridgefield CT so that I would be close to my new job in Valhalla,
NY. At Pepsi, I had several jobs, first, as Director of US Product Development and then as Director of
International Product Development. In 1989, Seagram recruited me to be Vice President of R&D in
White Plains, NY.
We stayed in Ridgefield until 1993 when Seagram acquired Tropicana and we moved to Florida so that I
could get closer to my added responsibilities as Tropicana VP of Research and Technical Services. Florida
was terrific, but in 1996 my work at Tropicana was complete and we moved back to Ridgefield CT. I was
Chief Technical Officer for Seagram until 1999 when the company began the process of selling its food
and beverage assets. Although out of work, I wanted to continue to give back. Through a recruiting firm,
I learned about SCORE and volunteered at their office in Danbury CT. So, while Joan continued to work
for St. Mary Church, I was able to have fun helping small businesses start up. Over the seven years which
I worked with SCORE; I was also lucky enough to help the group as their chairperson for three years.
In 2000, our good friends Cal and Sue Clouser convinced us to buy some property in Savannah Lakes
Village, SC. We built a new house there and when Joan retired in 2007, we made our twelfth house
move. Joan became regularly active with golf and tennis, and volunteered at church, public schools, and
our community. As well as golf and fishing, I became highly active in the POA Finance Committee. Over
10 years, I had the privilege as serving as chairman for five years. In 2018 we hopefully made our last
move, this time back to Monmouth Woods in Howell NJ and closer to our families. Although we miss our
friends back in SC, as well as the lower cost of living and warmer environment, it is a delight to be able
to spend time with our kids and their families at spur of the moment. Being this close and seeing them
regularly has just reinforced our pride in them. Being honest, caring, humble, hard-working, and having
a zest to learn are virtues which have always been dear to me and seeing those virtues reflected in those
kids satisfies me that Joan and I have left the world a better place.