James “Jim” Ralph Riley, 87, died Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, at Carefree Assisted Living in Brainerd, Minn. He was born on May 24, 1925, in Bismarck, N.D., to Ralph and Amelia [Kamrowski] Riley. During James’ childhood, his parents worked for the railroad, moving the family around to many different Midwest locations, including Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas and Wisconsin. James graduated from high school in Auburn, Neb. He entered the Army in 1948 and was a psychiatric social worker at Fort Riley in Kansas. After discharge from the Army, James was a social worker in Nebraska and Minnesota. He married Violet Spangler on June 10, 1950, in Tekamah, Neb. Together they raised four children in Nebraska and Minnesota, eventually settling in Minnesota for good. James and Vi divorced in 1970. James received his BA degree in microbiology and psychology from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and received his master’s degree in public health from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Throughout the years, James’ jobs included bacteriologist at both the Nebraska State Health Department and Glen Lake T.B. Sanatorium in Minnesota, Health and Safety Sanitarian at the University of Minnesota Student Health Services, Air Pollution Control Director for the St. Louis County Health Dept. in Duluth, Minn., followed by Supervising Sanitarian for inspecting and licensing hotels, motels, restaurants and resorts in St. Louis Co., owner of the Merrifield cafe, caregiver at Brainerd State Hospital and Toxic Substances Control Officer at the EPA Lab in Duluth. James later retired at the beloved home he built on Clark Lake in Nisswa, Minn., though he continued to do things such as RSVP-sponsored tutoring in biology, microbiology and English at Central Lakes College in Brainerd.
Some of the things James loved through the years included fishing, hunting, visiting with friends and relatives, spending time with his children and grandchildren, traveling to many places to see new things, attending his grandchildren’s concerts, recitals and other special occasions, eating out (with a special fondness for Rafferty’s Pizza and KFC), and watching the birds at his lake home.
James was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Robert Riley; first wife, Violet; and very special friend, Elfrieda Jeffrey. James is survived by his children, James S. (Karel) Riley, of Austin, Michele Rolandson (Gary Skerjance), of Virginia, Minn., David Riley, of Coon Rapids, Minn., and Daniel Riley, of Maple Grove, Minn.; grandchildren, David Rolandson and Erin Rolandson (Aaron Raukar), all of Minneapolis; and brother, Dwayne X. Riley, of Grosse Point Park, Mich.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, at St. Christopher’s Catholic Church in Nisswa with Father George Zeck officiating. Visitation will be held the hour before services at the church. Burial will be in Greenwood Cemetery in Nisswa.
Nelson-Doran Funeral Home and Crematory, Brainerd, MN