Family Login:

Share This Obituary
Send Flowers
flowers logo

Memories & Candles

“Rest in peace Norman. Thanks for all of the laughter. ”
1 of 73 | Posted by: Sharon McFarland - New York, NY

“Nervous and new to NYC in the 1980's Norman was my writing mentor and big brother. I grew as a writer and became comfortable in my artist skin. In...Read More »
2 of 73 | Posted by: Carol Lewis - Dobbs Ferry, NY

“I didn't know you for that long but you were a true inspiring person. Thanks that I was able to meet you ”
3 of 73 | Posted by: philipp rohl - vienna - Friend

“Haven't seen Norman for 50 years, but I have no doubt I would know him anywhere, at anytime with his arms and mouth open ready to share his passion...Read More »
4 of 73 | Posted by: Otis Anderson - Milwaukee, WI

“Gentle soul, humble giant and a sweet, present spirit. That’s Norman! May you rest in great peace Brother Man,and eternal music be with you.You...Read More »
5 of 73 | Posted by: Tsidii Le Loka - New York, NY

“RIP ”
6 of 73 | Posted by: Chas Miller - Rocky Hill, CT

Norman & I, November 2018
7 of 73 | Posted by: Amanda Wood - New Milford, CT

“To Susan and family .. MY deepest condolences to you and family i feel the pain cause it just happen to me losing the one that you love is not easy....Read More »
8 of 73 | Posted by: james cobb - DANBURY, CT

“To the family of Norman: I had the pleasure of touring with Norman and because it was Norman, we never had to worry about anything. He made sure at...Read More »
9 of 73 | Posted by: Branice McKenzie - Oakland, CA

“To Susan and family... My heart is deeply sad and hurting and i'am lost for words at this time, but sending my deepest heart felt condolences to you...Read More »
10 of 73 | Posted by: james cobb - DANBURY, CT - family

“To the Riley Family my heart is heavy Norman was a mentor , teacher Father , Mother and best friend he believed in me and my abilities more than I...Read More »
11 of 73 | Posted by: Troy Strother - Charleston, SC

“My deepest condolences to Norman's Family & Friends. Clearly Norman is BELOVED.There is no one that I have met like Norman, and I am still in...Read More »
12 of 73 | Posted by: Amanda Wood - New Milford, CT

“Norman was exceptional in every way. A true renaissance man with a thoughtful mind and open heart. Accomplished writer, poet, performer, musician...Read More »
13 of 73 | Posted by: Cheryl Pierce - New York, NY

“Norman you will be missed dearly. Rest in peace. Regina ”
14 of 73 | Posted by: Regina Smith - Danbury, CT

“To Susan and Family... I send my most sincere and deepest condolences to you and your family on the passing of Norman. I will always remember him as...Read More »
15 of 73 | Posted by: Woodie Brandon - Derwood, MD

“Brother Norman, you will be missed dearly. What joy you brought to The Bill S. Curtis Harambee Youth Center. It was a blessing to have known you. R...Read More »
16 of 73 | Posted by: Julie Barnes - Danbury - friend

“I met Norman over 30 years ago at New Federal Theatre. He is one of the most talented Writer/Director/Technicians I've ever known! And thats why he...Read More »
17 of 73 | Posted by: Akua Henderson-Brown - Brooklyn, NY

“My deepest condolences to the family of Brother Norman Riley. May peace be upon his external soul. I will not forget him. ”
18 of 73 | Posted by: Ralph Chance - New York, NY

“My deepest condolences to Susan, Mark and the entire Riley family, as well as Tina and the countless people who were among Norman's circle of friends...Read More »
19 of 73 | Posted by: Karen Wos - Woodland Park, NJ

“In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always. ”
20 of 73 | Posted by: Heyward McCarley - Danbury

“In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always. ”
21 of 73 | Posted by: Express Window Films Heyward McCarley - CT

“May God Bless you and Comfort You in your Time of Sorrow. ”
22 of 73 | Posted by: Jacquetta McMurray - NJ - Friend

“Having heard the countless stories of you as a child and meeting you as an adult I came to appreciate the impact that you had on my parents and...Read More »
23 of 73 | Posted by: Dallas Gardner - Danbury, CT

“Norman was one of the first people I befriended when moving to NYC in 1977, dancing and teaching at Henry Street Settlement; a forever hard worker,...Read More »
24 of 73 | Posted by: Myrena and Samuel Sherrod - NY

“Norman was dedicated to helping the youths at Harambee. He was a kind, gentle spirit. There was never a time that he wouldn't be available to help us...Read More »
25 of 73 | Posted by: Veronica Mourning/Williams - CT

“Norman was dedicated to helping the youths at Harambee. He was a kind, gentle spirit. There was never a time that he wouldn't be available to help us...Read More »
26 of 73 | Posted by: Veronica Williams - Southbury, CT

“Norm, to many words were still unspoken. You will be forever remembered. And forever missed. ”
27 of 73 | Posted by: Sarah Keusch-Aslan - Friend

“Norm, to many words were still unspoken. You will be forever remembered. And forever missed. ”
28 of 73 | Posted by: Sarah - Friend

“I already miss you man, my heart breaks thinking about not calling you,The Rock. The one constant in this ever changing world. You never changed. ...Read More »
29 of 73 | Posted by: Richard Arnold - APEX, NC

“Norman, thank you so much for planting the seed of Black Theatre in my life as my Teen Drama Instructor at the Louis Abrons Arts for Living Center...Read More »
30 of 73 | Posted by: Cynthia Kitt - Bronx, NY - friend

“My family and I met Norman years ago back in the late sixty's he was a force in our lives from that day on. He was a a special man that we were...Read More »
31 of 73 | Posted by: Gail Dillard - Danbury, CT

“Norman was my neighbor and always had something kind to say to me, my children, and anyone he happened to meet. With his passing I am reminded of the...Read More »
32 of 73 | Posted by: Sarah Ridgway - New York, NY

“My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Norman Riley May you R.I.P my Brother ”
33 of 73 | Posted by: Alseymorial Ashe - Oakville, CT

“My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Norman Riley May you R.I.P my Brother ”
34 of 73 | Posted by: Alseymorial Ashe - Oakville, CT

Norman at home, 11/30/18
35 of 73 | Posted by: Amanda Wood - New Milford, CT

“We express our deepest sympathies and condolences to the Riley Family. ”
36 of 73 | Posted by: Joseph Marutollo

“Normaaaannn! Always the man! What a Joy and Blessing to share work life with you. Thank you for great times, for your always spontaneous willing,...Read More »
37 of 73 | Posted by: Gabrielle Lee - New York, NY

“My sincere condolences for your loss. I pray Norman now rests in peace. Please reach out to me for anything needed. Norman was very special to me for...Read More »
38 of 73 | Posted by: Maria Chisolm - Jersey City, NJ

“For the next 12 years we travel the world and worked side-by-side every step of the way we were a dynamic team together along with the Dan Sherman...Read More »
39 of 73 | Posted by: Steven Jones - Mount Vernon, NY

“Siempre en tu espíritu en la lucha pa' justicia - mi hermano, Norman. May we always feel your spirit and energy within us. My dear Norman - how...Read More »
40 of 73 | Posted by: Elke Calero Probst - Danbury, CT

“Please accept my condolences for your loss. Norman will be greatly missed. ”
41 of 73 | Posted by: Bridget Scales - New York, NY

42 of 73 | Posted by: Bruce Frankel - Paris - friend

43 of 73 | Posted by: Bruce Frankel - Paris - friend

44 of 73 | Posted by: Bruce Frankel - Paris - friend

45 of 73 | Posted by: Bruce Frankel - Paris - friend

46 of 73 | Posted by: Bruce Frankel - Paris - friend

with Francois Moutin for docu "Mississippi Dreaming.  2018.09
47 of 73 | Posted by: Bruce Frankel - Paris - friend

“Screenshots from the documentary " Mississippi Dreaming" The Moutin Factory Quintet. Here with Francois Moutin ”
48 of 73 | Posted by: Bruce Frankel - Paris - friend

“Norman the One and Only. He was one of the lucky ones, he knew joy. Is it possible to rest in peace and still push the celestial band to the next...Read More »
49 of 73 | Posted by: Bruce Frankel - Paris - friend

“I am beyond sad. In fact devastated. I feel empty and even angry at life's and fate's unfairness. Norman is the most generous, inspiring and inspired...Read More »
50 of 73 | Posted by: Francois Moutin - New York, NY

“So Sorry to hear of Norman's passing. We have so many great memories of times with Norman and the impact he make with the youth in Danbury Ct. and...Read More »
51 of 73 | Posted by: Shirley ( Jean) Dolberry` - NC

“Sad to hear of his passing. May he rest in peace. ”
52 of 73 | Posted by: Yanti Sukardi - Rego Park, NY

“My sincere condolences to The Riley Family and his many friends and co-workers. I remember Norman when I was taking classes at HENRY St. Settlement.....Read More »
53 of 73 | Posted by: Debbie McIntyre - Brooklyn, NY

“My most sincere condolences to the family. ”
54 of 73 | Posted by: Antoinette Tynes - Hartsdale, NY

“I first met Norman over 40 years ago when i was young an new in the theatre business. He became a good friend very easily. Such a kind heart and...Read More »
55 of 73 | Posted by: antoinette tynes - Hartsdale, NY

“So sorry for your loss sending my prayers ”
56 of 73 | Posted by: Debra Spruill - Auburn, AL

“My deepest condolences to the family. I am a former Manhattan Plaza resident and Norman was nice to everyone ”
57 of 73 | Posted by: Ednah Holt - Pittsburgh, PA

“It's with a heavy heart that I and my wife gina offer our deepest sympathy to the Riley family. ”
58 of 73 | Posted by: Troy Strother - Charleston, SC

“We extend our deepest condolences to Norman's family and friends. We were floor mates and always loved seeing him and chatting. We have been...Read More »
59 of 73 | Posted by: Joyce and Rich Swingle - New York, NY

“You will be Deeply Missed my Talented Friend! ”
60 of 73 | Posted by: JEWEL BRIMAGE - New York City, NY

“Norman! What a wonderful human being. J lived in his building at M. Plaza. I was thrilled to bond with him by directing two of his piercingly...Read More »
61 of 73 | Posted by: Charles Turner - NYC, NY - Friend

“"The best people are like water.They benefit all things,And do not compete with them.They settle in low places,One with nature, One with Tao" -Tao Te...Read More »
62 of 73 | Posted by: vera zachariassen - Friend

“My deepest condolences and sympathy to Norman's family and his friends. He will be missed by his musician friends and by everyone who knew him. He...Read More »
63 of 73 | Posted by: Finley Hunt - New York, NY

“My heart is full with the memory of a gentle soul. I remember the music and memories Norman and I shared when I would drive him to the hospital. He...Read More »
64 of 73 | Posted by: Edythe Feaster - New York, NY

“My heart felt condolences to the Riley Family. Norman was a man of many talents. I will always remember his warm smile . Norman was an inspiration ...Read More »
65 of 73 | Posted by: Betty MILLER-Jaynes - Friend

66 of 73 | Posted by: Annette Spruill - WATERBURY, CT

67 of 73 | Posted by: Annette Spruill - WATERBURY, CT

“Mr. Norman was a great man great wisdom great encouragement loving like my brother Larry say he was his mentor friend I think God for the short time...Read More »
68 of 73 | Posted by: Troy Moore - Greenville, NC

“Our sincere condolences and prayers to friends and family of Norman. We meet many years ago and had the pleasure of sharing the stage on more than a...Read More »
69 of 73 | Posted by: Hector Irizarry - Danbury, CT

“My condolences from Whitaker family ”
70 of 73 | Posted by: Cynthia Whitaker - Danbury, CT

“Condolences to family and friends ”
71 of 73 | Posted by: Pat Perkins - Danbury, CT

“My Deepest Condolences to the Riley Family. My Brother, Mentor, Friend has moved on to the Spiritual Plane of Our Respected Ancestors. Peace and...Read More »
72 of 73 | Posted by: Larry Moore-Mouning - Danbury, CT

“Condolences to the Riley Family. May His Soul Rest In Peace and Rise in Glory! ”
73 of 73 | Posted by: Coleen Smart - Brooklyn, NY

Prayer Emblem


Norman Riley was born in New Rochelle, New York on September 3, 1953. He was the youngest child of Janet and Elwood Riley and joined siblings Susan (his twin, born 12 minutes earlier) and older brothers Mark and Clayton.
He was raised in Newtown, Ct., where he attended elementary and junior high school, before entering the all-male private school known then as The Gunnery, which is now known as The Frederick Gunn School. Although Norman did not complete his studies at The Gunnery, it nonetheless had a profound impact on him, as did the civil rights movement, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Black Panther Party.
In the midst of this tumultuous time in the nation's history and after being raised and rejected in all-white Newtown, Ct., Norman found a welcoming home in Danbury, Ct. at a place that was known then and now as Harambee, which, in Swahili, means "all pull together."
It was at Harambee that Norman's truly remarkable gifts emerged. He became a writer and poet there, and his poetry was published while he was still a teenager. He studied with Owen Dodson, Clay Stevenson, Louis Untermeyer and others. He became a musician and set his poetry to music in two CDs entitled Under Ground Streets that are available today through Folkways Records and at the Smithsonian. He formed his own band and played at numerous clubs throughout New York City. In addition to his skill in musical composition, he played a mean cunga, having been taught by the incomparable Billy Curtis. He also acted and wrote plays, one of which was performed at a theater here in the City.
As a young man, Norman worked at the Henry Street Settlement, where he met many young black actors and actresses of the day who have gone on to have illustrious careers on stage, in the movies and on television. He met people there like Samuel L. Jackson, Eric LaSalle, Anna Horsford and S. Epatha Merkeson just as they were getting started.
But the heart of Norman's career and his greatest source of pride was his work with Harry Belafonte, traveling with him all over the world and assisting in staging his performances. To Norman, Mr. Belafonte was not just a brilliant musician and entertainer; he was a dedicated civil rights activist who fought on the front lines for justice and equality; the things Norman believed most deeply in. Our family is honored today by the presence of representatives of the Belafonte enterprise.
Norman, beloved by so many, is survived by the many close friends and family who are present today, as well as those who could not be here in person, including myself, Mark, Joy, Nancy, Kim, Pat, Hagar, Grayson, Gayle, Chris, Viveca, Sonji, David, Daryl, Tony, Brian, Lynn, Pam, Tobey and Evelyn, just to name a few. Norman is also survived by very special people in his life, including Tina Feaster, with whom he shared an incredible and loving bond and Karen Wos who also extended her unqualified love and steady support to Norman. And of course, his many friends at Manhattan Plaza where he lived for 44 years, his students and close friends: Clifton Graves, Larry Moore, Carl Feaster, Troy Strother, Derry Williams, Thomas Glave, Francois, James (Clock) McCarley, and his rock and spiritual brother, Steve Jones.

To virtually attend Norman's service, the zoom link is