Coach Riley Doyle Cross

December 2, 1932July 23, 2018

On July 23, 2018 "Coach" Riley Cross passed on to his forever home. He was born in Sylvester, TX to Rex and Mozell Cross on December 2, 1932. At a young age his family moved to the community of Longworth where he would meet two lifelong friends, Doyle Brunson and DC Andrews. They would remain friends for 80 years. After finishing school in Longworth through the ninth grade, they transferred to Sweetwater High School. All three were active in sports. Riley was a four sport letterman in football, basketball, track and baseball. In 1950 he was offered a football scholarship to Hardin Simmons University. His two friends made the same choice, DC in football and Doyle in Basketball. A chance meeting of Riley and his future wife happened on a beautiful fall day. Riley was wearing a red Sweetwater letter jacket and Betty Gay Smith wore a black Abilene High cheerleader sweater. His smile was infectious even though Gay played it cool. From friendship to love the bond was formed. Both of them graduated from Hardin Simmons in 1954. Hey were married January 29, 1954 and were married 64 1/2 years. Riley had a double major in math and P.E. and he expected to coach, but by chance he chose to work for Humble Oil (Exon). In 1956 daughter Kayla Diann was born. The family transferred back to Abilene for a few years and made another move to Concord, California. In 1962 daughter Kami Lynn was born. The family lived in Seymour, Odessa, Austin and Abilene, where he finally got a teaching and coaching job at Madison. There he fulfilled his dream to work with kids. He worked at Madison for twenty seven years and retired in 1997. In 2000 Riley was named to the HSU Athletic Hall of Fame. Kayla and Kami received their education in Abilene. Riley was so proud of them in everything they did. One in tennis and one in gymnastics, both in choir at Cooper and in church. Two grandchildren came along to bless the lives of Riley and Gay- Tammie and Dave. Preceding Riley in death were his parents; DC Andrews; and infant sister; and 2 nephews. He is survived by his wife Gay; daughters Kayla and Kami; granddaughter, Tammie; grandson, Dave and wife Nikki. Also surviving are two sisters, Fern Bland and Zenita Gardner and husband Leon; sister-in-law, Lyndelle Hatcher; and several nieces and nephews. Visitation: Thursday, July 26, 2018 at Elliott-Hamil Funeral Home, 5701 Hwy 277 South from 6 - 7pm. Memorial Service: Friday, July 27, 2018 at First Baptist Chapel at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to City Light Ministries or Hardin Simmons Athletics Program. You may view and sign the guestbook at


  • Preceding Riley in death were his parents; DC Andrews; and infant sister; and 2 nephews.
    He is survived by his wife Gay; daughters Kayla and Kami; granddaughter, Tammie; grandson, Dave and wife Nikki. Also surviving are two sisters, Fern Bland and Zenita Gardner and husband Leon; sister-in-law, Lyndelle Hatcher; and several nieces and nephews.


  • Gathering Thursday, July 26, 2018
  • Memorial Service Friday, July 27, 2018

Coach Riley Doyle Cross

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Lisa Wilkins Laird

August 2, 2018

Coach Cross will be greatly missed. He was a dear friend to our family and a beloved teacher of mine. His gentle spirit and glowing smile always made me want to do my best. Both of my grandfather's died before I was born and though Coach Cross was my parents' age he was as close to a grandfather as I could imagine. My sincerest condolences to a great family.

D.C. McDonald

July 27, 2018

Coach Cross was one of the most influential men in my life. He was the most honorable, honest and dedicated teacher/coach to ever walk the halls of Madison Jr High. He taught us football players self-discipline, respect and the value of hard work. Coach Cross is the reason why a lot of us are lifelong friends. I remember many times running into him at basketball practice. It was like running into a brick wall. I know I can speak for everyone that he coached when I say we sure were lucky to have known him. Coach Cross, thank you for being you! Until we see each other in Glory. You will be missed.

Keith Hatcher

July 26, 2018

It was an honor to play for Coach Cross in the early 80’s. We arguably had the best 9th grade team in Madison’s history. It was because of coach Cross. We were a good team in 7th & 8th grade but he knew that. Instead of making us into what he wanted he let us be who we were. That’s a sign of a good coach. We went 10-0 that year. Thank you coach for being a part of so many wonderful memories and relationships that I still have to this day. Know that your example is what every teacher and coach strive for when they step on a field, court, and in a classroom. Love you coach and I know the angels are rejoicing.

Jason Pillion

July 26, 2018

I loved Coach Cross. He was a great friend to my dad and gave me direction during crucial middle school years as my coach. I’ll fondly remember track season. I didn’t want to do track but that wasn’t an option so I settled for doing high jump. Everyone else would go over to Cooper to practice and I was left to practice at Madison without any supervision. Every day this meant jump a little for about 10 minutes then Coach Cross would get a basketball and he and I made our way to the gym. What ensued were some highly competitive games of 21. Too often this included him backing me down and then using his unblockable, sweeping hook shot that was usually an automatic bucket. He’d then go to the Free Throw line and make 19 straight free throws (with me arguing that there’s supposed to be a 3 make limit but of course losing the argument). He’d smile and laugh after every victory and I’d say we have to play again. Those were my favorite track workouts. Coach was one of kind, great man who will be missed.

Love you Coach,
Jason Pillion
Madison Bison 1988-91

Greg Badgett

July 26, 2018

Coach Cross was truly a man of honor.
As I reflect on my days under Coach Cross’ influence, he was a coach, teacher and mentor to all he came in contact with each year.
I played football for Coach Cross at Madison JR High in the early 80’s.
He not only developed us as athelete’s but he developed and influenced us as young responsible adults.
Coach Cross taught us that hard work and dedication in all we did would lead to success. Winning was a big part of his teachings and winning in life was his end goal.
Hugs, Love and Prayers for the family
We will Miss You Dearly

Kathi Childers

July 26, 2018

Coach Cross was my 9th grade algebra teacher at Madison in 1985. Only the fondest of memories of him. Prayers for his family.

Mike Arnold

July 26, 2018

Coach Cross was one of the Best Coaches I had the privilege to play for. As a Coach not only did he teach us how to play the game, he taught us how to compete and win, as a Teacher he taught us how to become successful in life through hard work and commitment. His influence on me at a young age enabled me to have a successful career in the United States Army. Thank you Coach, you will be missed.

Russell Webb

July 25, 2018

Coach Cross was our 9th grade football coach at Madison Junior High.. He worked us hard but also was an encourager! He loved to call us "mullet heads" and it was always in fun! Coach will be missed! My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you!

Janice Latham

July 25, 2018

Riley always had that wry grin and twinkle in his eye when he was our neighbor in the 60s in Odessa and still had it all these years later living down the street from us in Abilene. Small world. Love you Gay and thinking of you and the girls.

Danny Thomas

July 25, 2018

I've known Riley since I married into the family in 1975. One of my favorite memories, although it was not that enjoyable at the time is as follows. Many years ago, we went to his place close to Eskota to work calves for him. Leon, Phil Elmore and I set about sorting out his calves in his "working pens" and started working the calves. These were crossbred Charolais calves that probably averaged 400 lbs. and were not "user friendly". Soon, it was Phil and me in the "pens". I would rope a calf and snub him to a post then Phil and I would throw the calf and Leon would vaccinate, tag or whatever the calf needed. Riley seemed to be there as upper management. There was one particular calf that was the biggest of the bunch that had witnessed all the goings on up till his time and was in no mood to be cooperative. Phil and I wrestled that calf for what seemed like 30 minutes trying to get him down. Both of us hit the ground more than once before we finally got him down and ready to work. Wiping the sweat and dirt from my eyes, I looked up at Riley as he said "Be careful, Danny, don't hurt my calves". I assured him, somewhat peeved, his calves had been getting the better part of the tussle and invited him into the pens to give us a hand. He just flashed that wry grin of his and said "you're doing fine".