Not long after Stephen died in 1998, testimonials began arriving from many quarters. They appear below, unedited.
From Peter Beaney and Sam Hickey, Staffordshire University
Arthur and Isabel Voss, Steve's 'in-laws'
Tony Woodley, who studied under Steve on the BA and MA
We would like to add our own personal tribute to the notice already circulated by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences about Stephen Riley's death. We feel that the tragic nature of his death should not interfere with or prevent the normal process of the celebration of his life.
We both knew Steve as a colleague, teacher and friend. For Peter, he was a formative influence in his life, teaching him the politics of development as an undergraduate. Sam was a postgraduate student of his at Masters level and was subsequently influenced by Steve to begin doctoral studies on African politics and development under his supervision.
Generations of students have, in fact, known him as an enormously committed teacher and postgraduate supervisor. He pioneered Development Studies at Staffordshire University, developing first a half degree and then a Masters in Development Studies which were highly commended by external examiners. Students on these degrees were inspired by both Steve's extensive travels in Africa and Asia and his profound commitment to the subject. They rewarded him by also becoming involved in the study and practice of development as postgraduate researchers, travellers, and workers in non-governmental and voluntary organisations.
Given his teaching and other commitments, it is astounding how active Steve also was as a researcher. He was a joint editor of the journal 'Corruption and Reform' and a member of the editorial board of the Review of African Political Economy. He was known internationally as an expert on Sierra Leone and regularly consulted by government and the media on this strife ridden country. He had an endless and exhausting output of conference papers, journal articles, and books on Africa and development; and at the time of his death was working on a book for Zed Press on corruption entitled 'Stealing From the Poor'.
Most of all, however, we will remember Steve as a friend. Someone who, in his rare time off, would roll on the floor with Pete's children, take them to the movies or bounce around on plastic dinosaurs with them. As well as being a source of academic inspiration, Steve's warmth and humour could light up any occasion, whether during a supervisory meeting, in the pub after a seminar or at a party in his own home. We remember him here and now both for ourselves and all those that knew and care for him.
Our daughter, Katherine Frank, has sent us a copy of the beautiful tribute you and Mr. Hickey have written to Stephen Riley. We would like to contribute the following to the web site you propose setting up in his memory if you feel it to be appropriate.
We were privileged to have Stephen Riley as our son-in-law for nearly ten years. Although the great distance that separated us prevented our being with him as often as we would have liked, in the times we were able to be together he became a valued and beloved member of our family.
Many of the traits that endeared him to his colleagues and students were apparent to us too. His committment and love for our daughter paralleled that for his work; and his humor, warmth, and concern for others lit up whatever space he inhabited.
Along with other "foreigners", we probably observed a trait in Stephen not so readily apparent at home. This was his delight and fascination with customs and cultures different from his own. When he visited us in California, we had the impression that he was soaking up and appreciating our American ways. I imagine it was the same when he visited African or Asian countries. We, on the other hand, always regarded him as the ideal "Brit,"--the perfect ambassador of your wonderful country. Life will be less bright without him.
Arthur and Isabel Voss
La Jolla, California
I had the fortune to have Stephen Riley as my Development Studies tutor for four years, from 1993 to 1997. This encompassed a 3-year BA in Development Studies/Geography, and an M.A. with distinction in Development Studies.
I can remember my first days at Staffordshire University as being a period of uncertainty concerning the subject of Development Studies. I almost expected to switch predominantly over to Geography after a while. However, after the first few weeks of that first term, I became hooked, and the rest is history. My successful and hugely rewarding academic period at Staffs University can be attributed predominantly to the enthusiasm and support of Stephen, and his ability to inspire me into pursuing my new found interests in Third World (particularly West African) affairs.
I always found Steve's lectures extremely interesting. He would keep the subject matter simple and palatable; I frequently left the lecture room surprised at how many pages of notes I had managed to scribble down. His assistance and guidance as my tutor was invaluable, particularly with regards to my undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations. In particular, I was indebted to his words of wisdom on my research trip to Accra.
Finally, I will fondly remember Steve for his rather unique sense of humour, which frequently lightened many a lecture and seminar on what was often a frustratingly depressing subject matter.
In short, he was a hugely inspirational teacher, and fondly regarded and respected by all of my fellow Development Studies students. He will be sorely missed.