James Jay Riley

June 6, 1949 — July 6, 2022

Tucson, AZ

James Jay Riley

James “Jay” Riley of Tucson, Arizona passed away at his home Wednesday July 6, 2022 surrounded by his beloved wife Kathy and devoted dog Molly.

Jay was born June 6, 1949 in West Point, New York to John Riley and Mary Avery. He is survived by his wife Kathleen, with whom he celebrated 35 years of marriage; his daughter Jennifer Ponzo and son-in-law Steven Ponzo of Tucson, along with four beautiful grandchildren: Grace, Jonathan, Mia, and Joseph. He is also survived by his sisters Marlene Aspinwall of Huntsville, Alabama and Kara Taber of Port Richey, Florida.

Jay grew up in Highland Falls, New York just outside of West Point Military Academy. He attended Highland Falls High School and graduated with the class of 1968. Jay was active in Youth in Government, Fire Squad, Drama Club and the Junior Class Magazine Drive. He served as a skating guard at the Bear Mountain Skating Rink in New York.

In high school, Jay won the top award for the Magazine Drive, showing he had sales talents early on. He built a long and successful career in retail sales. A skilled and witty salesman well-loved by his customers, he sold everything from Volkswagen automobiles to Sears appliances, which marked the greatest number of years in his working history.  Jay was the top seller for appliance maintenance agreements. His abilities attracted the attention of top management at Sears, who made him a trainer for the sales staff.

Jay was a Vietnam-era veteran who served in the U.S. Army.

As a lifelong animal lover, Jay had a special connection with his pets. He always had at least one dog, and as many as three at one time. Whenever he was at out in public or at an animal shelter, he always made sure to share his love with the pets. Molly was his service dog and the two of them were together constantly. 

Jay was an expert gardener who loved planting flowers, bushes, and trees. He was especially fond of his roses, and the blue and yellow flowers were his favorite. Every day, Jay enjoyed the routine of maintaining his manicured garden. He constructed a fishpond with a fountain, which brought him and Kathy many hours of peaceful enjoyment.  

In their free time, Jay and Kathy enjoyed small trips around Arizona to see some of the beauty that surrounds them. Sedona was one of their favorite places to go.

Those closest to Jay will always remember his infectious sense of humor and how he could make people around him laugh. He was a wonderful joke teller who always managed to see the funny side of everyday events in life. 

Jay will be laid to rest with military honors at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Marana, Arizona. A celebration of his life will follow at Mount Zion Lutheran Church in Tucson, where he was a member. 

Memorial gifts may be made to: https://www.friendsofpacc.org/support-pacc-pets

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