Roy and Linda Riser



The sun shines down on the restored home of Roy and Linda Riser, which is located on East Main Street, just off the square.



A friend of mine recently shared some newspaper clippings her father had saved from some very old issues of the Livingston Enterprise, and included in these clippings were pictures that had been printed in the paper of how the town of Livingston used to look many years ago. I found it amazing that in these pictures some large and very beautiful homes were once located near the square. Needless to say, they were long ago torn down, and isn’t it a shame they couldn’t have been preserved? What a beautiful attraction to our town they would make now. One home almost on the square of Livingston has recently undergone improvements to ensure its preservation for years to come. Since 1986, Roy and Linda Riser have owned what will be remembered as the Dr. A.B. Qualls home, and although they occupied the house for a short time after buying it, they have just recently been able to settle into the house again.

Roy Riser, one of nine children, was born and raised on a farm in Grygla, MN. His parents, Oscar and Marie Riser, came from Norway, and settled in northern Minnesota – an area that was made up of mostly immigrant families. Roy’s family spoke Norwegian, and it was after he started school that he began to speak English. He described his growing-up years as good and happy ones. His family raised their own food, cut the firewood that was used in the two woodstoves that heated their home, and picked wild berries that grew on the farm for their mother to can for special treats, such as blueberry pies. There was fishing and swimming in the summer months, and hunting, snow skiing, and ice skating in the winter. It was nothing unusual to have six feet of snow during the winter, and snow shoes would be worn when the snow was that deep. Drugs were completely unheard of during the time Roy was growing up, and he even went on to say that no one in his family even smoked cigarettes.


The same PBM flown by Roy Riser when he rescued a downed pilot in Japan and received the Distinguished Flying Cross metal makes a jet-assisted take-off.



When World War II broke out, Roy, at the age of 21, joined the Navy. He enlisted specifically for flight training, even though he had never flown, and it was during his years as a Navy pilot that the groundwork was laid for his future career as a flight instructor and examiner. During the years Roy spent in the Navy, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross medal not once, but twice. The first medal was earned by recovering a downed pilot in Japan. In order to make this daring rescue, Roy flew into the traffic pattern with Japanese planes, and from under cover of fire from antiaircraft weapons on shore, he landed on the water and recovered the pilot. His second medal was also for rescuing a downed pilot under enemy fire.

After World War II ended, Roy left the service, but signed up again when the Korean Conflict began. He flew 100 missions over Korea before returning to the United States in 1951. He served in several Navy squadrons including the Navy “hurricane hunters”, whose job was to fly into the eye of a hurricane to drop naval instruments for the hurricane center. He also flew radar reconnaissance above the “dew line” out of Iceland, helping to provide solid radar coverage of the Arctic Circle while ground installations were being constructed.

After retiring from the Navy, Roy became the operator of an airport in Hazelhurst, GA. During this time, he began a flight school, and he also started a Piper aircraft dealership there. Later, the airport in States-boro, GA, was another facility that was skillfully and efficiently managed and maintained by Roy, as well as an airport in Springfield, KY.



Linda and Roy met at the Jordan Restaurant in Jamestown and were married in 1982. Linda, the daughter of G.F. and Mae Ipock, was born and raised in Fentress County. There were 13 children in her family. She graduated from Alvin C. York Institute in Jamestown and furthered her education at St. Catherine College in Springfield, and The Protocol School of Washington, D.C. She was managing the Jordan Restaurant when she met Roy. During the years 1979 through 1985, the Livingston Airport operated under the expertise of Roy.

When the Risers left Livingston, it was to Lake County, FL, on Lake Joanna, where they made their home. It took Roy just 4 minutes to fly in his float plane from their home to the airport where he taught flying and did maintenance work. To go by car to the airport, the drive would take 45 minutes.

Metter Municipal Airport in Metter, GA, was the place the Risers have spent the last nine years. Roy managed the airport there, along with being a flight instructor.



A party, complete with a barber shop quartet, was given in their honor before the Risers moved back to Livingston. Many who had taken their flight training from Roy were in attendance. Although he doesn’t know the total number of students he has taught to fly, the flight school at Statesboro had as many as 180 students with a full staff of instructors. During the nine years at Metter, another 61 students earned their pilot license. Many of his students still stay in touch with him on a regular basis. Three generations of one family learned to fly with Roy’s careful instructions. Joe Neville Sr., a federal district judge of Georgia, his son, Joe Neville Jr., and grandson, Joe Neville III all achieved their wings from hours spent under the watchful eye of Roy Riser.

Thor prepares to board the plane and climb into the passenger seat he claimed as his own.




Over the years Roy has flown lots of people to various destinations, and on many trips he made, he was accompanied by the family pet, a dog named Thor.

Thor always sat in the seat next to the pilot and believed he had exclusive rights to that seat and absolutely no one else should sit there, including Roy Riser; however, as a result of suffering a broken wrist, it was necessary for Roy, while wearing a cast, to fly the plane from the passenger’s seat – the very one Thor claimed as his own. Naturally, Thor didn’t understand at all when Roy put him in the pilot’s seat. He became greatly upset, got down in the floor of the plane, and had what I called when my kids were growing up a real tempy tantrum.


Eventually Thor did get to claim his seat again, and flew happily ever after. As those of us who love our pets can relate, the Risers considered Thor a family member. He was an extremely smart dog who could identify by the sound of the engines who was landing at the airport. He knew what kind of treats he would get from certain planes, and waited patiently until each one had taxied in before going out to greet those onboard, knowing who would give him a donut, and who had other kinds of treats awaiting him.

Thor’s best friend, next to Roy and Linda, was a stray cat they had taken in whose name was Miss Kitty. Thor and Miss Kitty shared everything, especially mice Miss Kitty caught. She always brought the first one to Thor, and then went back to catch the second one for herself.

Thor’s life, however, came to a very unnecessary and tragic end when someone poisoned him while the Risers were living in Livingston the first time. Also, tragically, Miss Kitty died just five days after Thor passed away. She was so lost without him, she refused to eat, and simply grieved herself to death following the loss of her best friend.

I could really get on my soapbox at this point in the story and do some preaching about cruelty to animals, but most who know me and those who follow my stories know firsthand how I feel about that subject. It’s absolutely something that doesn’t need to happen.


The Risers have a world of friends from all across the United States, and among those Roy counts as one of his best friends is a fellow by the name of Huston Coslow. Mr. Coslow, who is 66 years of age, not only learned to fly from Roy, but also bought an airplane from him. During the extended illness and death of his wife of 48 years, his love of flying provided therapy that helped Mr. Coslow cope with his loss.

Among the many mementoes and photographs the Risers have is a picture of Roy, with one of his students and a lady by the name of Evelyn Johnson, who by the way is 94 years-old. Roy and Ms. Johnson have between them more than 100,000 hours of flying time – something only a handful of pilots have accomplished. Ms. Johnson is also an instructor and examiner, and she continues to fly.


Huston Coslow, along with his flight instructor, Roy Riser, stand aside one of Roy’s small planes.



Posing for a picture are, from left, Georgia Federal District Judge Joe Neville Sr., Roy Riser, Joe Neville Jr., Jeffery Neville, and Joe Neville III.


Roy has a total of 61 years he has spent flying. He has owned a total of 50 planes over the course of his adult life, most of which were used in his flight classes.

If I were asked to describe Roy Riser, I would definitely refer to him as a very gentle person, but also very, very modest about all his accomplishments. He and Linda had been married six years before she knew about the honors he received during his time spent in the Navy.

But Linda isn’t left behind either when it comes to what she’s done with her life. Along with also being a pilot, she has operated several businesses in Livingston including The Clothes Corner, Body Reflections, and Linda Jane Dress Shop. She has owned a hair salon, Even Cut, on the square in Livingston for several years, and is in the process of beginning The Protocol School of Tennessee, which will specialize in international protocol, corporate etiquette, image, professionalism and mingle-ability. Teaching customer service and nutrition classes at Swainsboro Technical College, Swainsboro, GA, along with adult literacy classes, are also included in her career. She writes articles on positive image and serves as a radio host for Woman’s World.

I believe Dr. and Mrs. A.B. Qualls would be happy to know the home is in such caring hands. They recently added a room on the back of the house, and have matched the architecture and also the bricks the home was originally built from so closely, it’s hard to believe that addition hasn’t always been there. After years of passing the house with no lights on at night, it’s really nice to see the home all lit up now, and a warm and welcoming glow coming from inside. The house is exactly like Linda described it to me: it smiles when you walk in.

And I have to smile, too, knowing that without caring folks such as the Risers, their house might have ended up as so many others that were built around the same time – gone and forgotten, a bulldozer brought in to do the dirty work, not ever even known about by younger generations other than through a yellowed newspaper clipping someone had saved and passed on.

I’m also glad to know that hopefully for many years to come, this house will be cared for and appreciated by not only the owners, but those who pass by and admire one of the last of the older homes the town of Livingston can claim.



Back to Josephine's Journal