WASHINGTON — William Christopher Riley, 47, of Cathedral Heights, departed this Earth on Sunday after a prolonged battle with loneliness. Riley is survived by his mother Eleanor and his cat Wonky. A career public servant, Riley worked at the Office of Lead Paint Hazard Control where he rose to the rank of Special Deputy Assistant for Infrastructure Remediation Policy.
Riley also had the unfortunate honor of being dubbed “D.C.’s loneliest man.”
Riley earned the sobriquet in 2000 after casually mentioning his dislike for Aaron Sorkin’s television masterpiece “The West Wing” during an office happy hour. He instead spoke of his great enjoyment of “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
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“I still remember the look of complete shock on our faces when William told us,” Melinda Gwynne, his former coworker said.“I tried to convince him ‘The West Wing’ was Sorkin’s magnum opus, but he wouldn’t stop doing Ray Romano impersonations.”
The group passionately talked about why Josiah Bartlet is the ideal president and explained Big Block of Cheese Day. They opined about the musical genius of W.G. Snuffy Walden. Nothing would move Riley from his position.
Realizing they no longer had a common conversation topic, Riley’s coworkers simply stopped speaking to him. Word of Riley’s feelings spread throughout the district and people began to avoid him. Riley quit dating. His calls to friends went unanswered. Even people on the Metro gave him a wide berth.
Riley’s dislike of “The West Wing” became the scarlet letter which led to his solitary demise.
“Obviously, I was concerned,” Eleanor Reily, his mother said. “A deep love for ‘The West Wing’ is the only common ground Republicans and Democrats have in D.C. How did he ever expect to move forward in his career? But at the end of the day, I supported his decision.”
The Washington Post interviewed Riley in 2016 as a part of a ten-year retrospective on the show’s end.
“I never realized how much people hated me for not enjoying the ‘The West Wing,’” Riley said. “It finally hit me when a man approached me on E Street and screamed at me for at least five minutes about how Aaron Sorkin is the only reason he had an opinion on flag burning.”
Riley admitted he tried several more times to watch the show, but each time he found the contrived idealism and forced speeches too much for his taste. Fearing that everyone had moved on to binging “House of Cards,” Riley simply gave up.
At his death, Riley was said to have seen all nine seasons of “Everybody Loves Raymond” at least a dozen times and had moved on to watching “King of Queens.”