Frederick Joseph Riley 

“Beloved Husband and Lifelong Advocate for Gay Rights”

Frederick Joseph Riley, 89 of Lowell, passed away on Tuesday, December 7, 2021 at Lowell General Hospital. He was the beloved husband of Emile Edouard Dufour with whom he shared the past 35 years.

He was born in Lynn, MA on November 7, 1932 and was a son of the late Joseph Frederick Riley and the late Catherine (Ellard) Riley. He was raised in central Massachusetts where he attended the area schools. He then enlisted in the United States Air Force where he served his country for a number of years before his honorable discharge. After his service, he attended Rhode Island School of Design on the GI Bill.

Fred was employed as an engineer at Raytheon for over 30 years before his retirement. He enjoyed art and was a member of the Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell and was a supporter of the Merrimack Repertory Theatre. He also enjoyed antiquing and was a friend of Bill W. for over 35 years.

Fred was a lifelong advocate for gay rights and with his husband, was one of the first gay marriages in Massachusetts, married for the past 17 years. Together they co-founded Greater Lowell Equality Alliance. He was also a longtime member of the Boston Prime Timers.

In 2007, Fred and Emile were both interviewed for a front page article in the New York Times entitled “Aging and Gay and Facing Prejudice in Twilight.” Additionally, in 2015 they were the subject of a short documentary entitled Fred and Emile which was a co-production of Image Theater and Breaking Branches Pictures produced by Jerry Bisantz and Ann Garvin.

In addition to his beloved husband, Emile Edouard Dufour of Lowell, he is survived by his sons, Jay Riley of Hollywood, Florida, Paul Riley and his wife, Robin, of Fort Madison, Iowa and Brian Riley of Keokyk, Iowa. He is also survived by his former wife Virginia Riley of Fort Madison, Iowa.

He was also the father of the late Kevin Riley.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 50 E Merrimack St, Lowell, MA 01852, and Whistler House, 243 Worthen St, Lowell, MA 01852.

In accordance with Fred’s wishes funeral services have been omitted. Arrangements by McDonough Funeral Home, (978) 458-6816, 14 Highland Street, Lowell, MA 01852. Please visit to leave the family a message of condolence.

View the online memorial for Frederick Joseph Riley