Richard W. Riley is the state's first governor to serve two consecutive terms, and lived in the Mansion for eight years. As governor, Riley successfully improved education in South Carolina and was nationally recognized for his efforts when President Bill Clinton appointed him as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education in 1993.
Recalling the pitfalls of living in what is in many respects a museum, Riley tells a wonderful and humorous story about his first days in the Mansion. The morning after he was inaugurated, “they told us my shower was being fixed, and we had to come out of my room and go down the hall and use [son] Ted's shower. So I was naked and had a towel around my waist, the first morning, I had just gotten up, it was seven o'clock in the morning or whatever, and I walked out in the hall, and there were these two elderly ladies. I said, ‘How are you?’ They said, ‘Ah, Governor, we're from Pomaria. We strongly supported you in the election.’ I said, ‘Well, I hope you don't see anything today that'll turn you against me.’"
Regarding the trustees, who formed a good bit of theMansion staff, Riley said his sons, “Ted and Hubert would play basketball [with the butlers]. Of course, the butlers were inmates, and we really got to know a number of them very well. Of course, we tried to do what we could to influence them to study and learn and try to improve themselves.” Mrs. Riley noted,“We had some literacy training at one point. I'd forgotten about that.” And Governor Riley added, “But we really became very close with them and they were very, very loyal to us.” And Ted concluded, “Became very street-smart, also.”
Mrs. Riley was especially active in promoting the restoration of the Governor's Mansion Complex and noted the gardens were, “really my love the whole time I was here, and still is.”