Bob Riley and Patsy Adams were high school sweethearts, growing up in Ashland, Alabama. The couple married in 1964, establishing their home and rearing four children on a farm in Clay County. While Patsy was happily engaged as a devoted mother and wife, homemaker, and civic leader, Bob was enjoying a successful career as a businessman and cattle rancher.
Bob first entered the political arena in 1997 when he was elected the U.S. representative for Alabama’s third congressional district. After serving three terms in Congress, he became Alabama’s 52nd governor in 2003. Riley will hand over the reins of state government to his successor in January. Only the third sitting Alabama governor to win re-election in modern times, he is preparing to leave office with an impressive record that has focused on economic development, education reform, and government accountability.
Under Riley’s leadership, Alabama has been awarded major economic development projects, including the construction of Hyundai’s only North American plant and the recruitment of the steel giant ThyssenKrupp, resulting in more than 150,000 new jobs.
A staunch champion of educational reform, Riley has worked to expand the Alabama Reading Initiative; the Alabama Math, Science & Technology Initiative; First Class Pre-K; Advanced Placement courses; and ACCESS Distance Learning. With these reforms, Alabama students have shown marked improvement in classroom achievement and significant gains on standardized national tests.
In addition, Riley has made state government more transparent than ever, putting records of state spending, flight logs, and contracts online for easy access. He continues to push for even stronger accountability laws, including a ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers, an end to “double dipping,” and full disclosure of expenditures on public officials by lobbyists.
As Alabama’s First Lady, Patsy Riley is an ardent champion of causes vital to the health and well-being of the state’s children and families. She is a charter member of the Hannah Home Shelby County Auxiliary and coordinator of the Blankets with a Blessing program. She is also spokesperson for the Parent Assistance Line and a strong supporter of the Alabama Healthy Marriage Initiative, Kid One Transport, HIPPY, and the Alabama Foster Care Association’s “Birthday Wish” program. In addition, she works closely with the Salvation Army.
In 2003, Mrs. Riley initiated a campaign to renovate and re-open the historic Governor’s Mansion, personally raising the necessary funds for the project.
Since leaving the Governor’s Mansion, the Rileys have dedicated themselves to the two passions they love most — their family and their state. While continuing her civic and charitable work, Mrs. Riley spends the majority of her time between the Riley’s farm in Ashland and their eight grandchildren in Birmingham. In 2011, Gov. Riley founded Bob Riley and Associates, a consulting company based in Homewood. Today, when he is not spending time with his family, he continues to do what he does best — creating jobs for Alabamians.