James was born in Oklahoma City, OK and when he was around six months old, he moved with his mother, father, brother and sister to Denver, Colorado, where he spent most of his life.
James is survived by his brothers Robb and Rich (and wife Jamie) and by his sister Pattie Riley Priebe (and husband Steve). A beloved uncle, James is survived by 14 nieces and nephews: Emily, Jessica, Sean, Josh, Zach, Nick, Alora, Gabe, Nate, Luke, Katie, Erin, Matt and Rachael. His nephews and nieces regard James as a major loving force in their lives. James is also survived by 19 great nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his father, Bob Lee Riley; his mother, Polly Durham Riley; and his brother Bill.
A Christian by faith, James was a steadfast spiritual man in belief and action throughout his life.
James attended Bradley Elementary and Thomas Jefferson High School, both in Denver. With a lifelong love of the mountains, James chose to live in beautiful towns at times in his life, including Gunnison where he attended college (studied broadcasting communication), Jackson Hole, and Grand Lake (where he lived and worked and spent time at the Riley family cabin). James enjoyed sports as a youth and also coached one of his brother’s teams. His love of sports continued into adulthood where he enjoyed softball and football with family and friends. James loved the Denver Broncos, and also followed the Rockies, Avalanche, and Nuggets. Blessed with intelligence, memory, and analytic ability, James was a whiz with sports statistics as well as being a trusted historian for family events and memories.
Among other health conditions, during his entire life James was challenged with a heart condition, for which he was seen regularly as a child, and for which he received two valve replacements as an adult. This is mentioned because anyone who knew Jim also knew that his “heart” was also perhaps his greatest strength. A loving son, sibling, uncle, and friend, those who knew James were struck and continuously moved by his caring, sensitivity, loyalty, humor, purity, honesty, and passion for things important to him. James had an ability to listen to and reach children that caused him to be liked and trusted by them, whether as his family or as a child with whom he worked.
James was a hard worker wherever he was employed during his life. Though having a variety of earlier vocations, none was so precious to James as his volunteer work during the last decade at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. For James, his work at the museum was one of his proudest accomplishments, receiving individual recognition for his work with young children exploring the age of the dinosaurs. Up to the last week of his life, James was a dedicated volunteer at the museum. The family of James extends a heartfelt and permanent thank you to the volunteer staff at the museum. May you know the difference you made to our brother. This brings us comfort us in our deep sadness.
Services for James will take place at Newcomer Funeral Home at 901 South Sheridan in Lakewood at 2:00 pm on Friday, January 24, 2020. James will later be laid to rest at Grand Lake Cemetery alongside his mother.