It is with profound sadness that we write an obituary for our Jimmy - a gentle and loving husband, a fiercely proud father, and the happiest grandfather we knew.
Jimmy lived a simple life and spent his time on things that were most important to him, and things that are truly important in life. His family was his everything. For 39 years Jimmy was loyally and proudly married to his bride, Linda. Over the years they grew their family until he had his "three sons". When Bobby married Hallie, Jimmy finally welcomed a real daughter into the family - not to discount his passionate love for his "little girl" Molly, the family basset hound. And most recently, Jimmy loved spending time with his grandson Robert, and was looking forward to another grandson in November.
Jimmy used to love to tell stories, and he had a lot of them. Some of his favorite story telling took place on one of his favorite days of the year, Christmas Eve. Jimmy loved hosting Christmas Eve - it incorporated everything that was important to him. Jimmy's warm and kindhearted nature was very inviting for visitors, and he was always quick to offer you a drink or some of "Mrs. Riley's delicious meatballs." If you said no, he would offer again, and again.
Jimmy was selfless, thoughtful, and giving. He got fulfillment in doing things for others. When the boys were young he was known around the neighborhood for endlessly pitching tennis balls to the neighborhood kids at the local park - often described as "Riley Park." If he wasn't at the park he was setting up street hockey or hosting a wiffleball game in the backyard. He was a wonderful man that was well respected in the Needham community.
Jimmy truly took the time to talk to people. In his 32 years as a Brookline Police Officer he loved connecting with people in the community and learning about their lives. After retirement he worked as a crossing guard in Needham and continued to meet new people - many of the kids and families knew Jimmy by name, and took pictures with him at the end of the year. And for anyone within walking distance of his home, they likely knew Jimmy from his multiple daily walks with Molly around the neighborhood.
Above everything else, Jimmy's number one priority was family. When Linda battled cancer Jimmy stoically supported her journey, and when she beat cancer, he boasted about how amazing she was through the entire process. He was extremely proud of her.
Jimmy's children were the light of his life. After often working overtime and long hours as a police officer, it was never a question of "if" Dad was going to play with the kids when he got home, it was a question of "what" he was going to play with them. The boys were his world, and he proudly let the world know it. Jimmy's happiest moments were attending the boys' many events. His smile couldn’t have been bigger than when he was standing next to Linda and Bobby on the Needham High School hill, and Mark caught the game winning touchdown in overtime to beat rival Wellesley on Thanksgiving Day; and if that wasn’t good enough, his son Mike was announcing the catch over the loud speaker as the fans rushed the field – it was a real life dream for Jimmy. As Mike’s career progressed from announcing high school games Jimmy proudly enjoyed listening to Mike announce at TD Garden, Fenway Park, and Gillette Stadium. And as the boys grew older, he enjoyed spending many Sundays cheering on the Patriots together at the Riley household.
After Bobby married Hallie, Jimmy finally had a daughter. He loved her dearly, was so proud of her work as a teacher, and couldn't be happier for Bobby to have her as his wife. But in the recent years, everything and everyone took a backseat to Robert, Bobby and Hallie's son, Jimmy's first Grandson. Jimmy adored Robert, and Robert adored his Pup. Being blessed to live within riding distance of his Pup, Robert often requested to ride his bike to visit Pup, to be greeted with a glowing smile, snacks and toys galore, and lots of laughs. Robert will miss his Pup.
Jimmy will be remembered as a genuine, gentle, kindhearted, warm, selfless, caring, and giving human being. We love him and will miss him dearly.
Relatives and friends are kindly invited to visiting hours in the Eaton Funeral Home, 1351 Highland Ave NEEDHAM, on Tuesday, June 30th from 3 to 7pm. Proper COVID-19 guidelines will be in effect including proper social distancing and all attendees must wear a mask. A private Mass of Christian Burial will be held in Saint Joseph Church on Wednesday at 11 AM. Interment at St. Mary’s Cemetery Needham. In lieu of flowers donations in Jimmy’s name may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105 or to the 100 Club of Massachusetts, 17 Gloucester St, Boston, MA 02115.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James D. Riley, please visit our floral store.