In his 2003 commencement address to the South Carolina Corps of Cadets, Mayor Riley issued a parting challenge to the new graduates:
“I challenge you to leave here to live a life of unending service, a life that will enrich you and all you touch. And that challenge, the challenge to serve, is one I know you will accept. You ask, how do I know? I know because you wear the ring.”
Upon his own graduation from The Citadel in 1964, Joe Riley accepted the same call to service, departing the regimented way of life he learned in the barracks to embrace an entire lifetime of servant leadership.
In his 40 years as mayor, Charleston has seen good times — tremendous economic development and urban growth — as well as bad — nature’s devastation during Hurricane Hugo, the loss of the Charleston nine firefighters, and most recently, the heartrending tragedy of the Emanuel AME shootings. Throughout his tenure, Mayor Riley has remained a pillar of strength, leading the people of Charleston through times of crisis while preserving our great city and its unique culture, charm and gentility. His legacy is rich and enduring.
His legacy is Charleston.