James is 36 and he lived here in Pagosa Springs for the best years of his life.
James came to Pagosa in 1994 when his aunt Susan and uncle Bob Holthaus had a business called Bear Cave Photo.
But most of you remember him as the little guy with a huge friendly smile and big heart, working at Radio Shack for Rollie Jackson.
James left Pagosa Springs in October 2012 to return home to Dewey, Ariz., to be with family the later part of his life, as he was battling colon cancer since March 2011.
James lost that fight March 23 at 2:20 p.m. when he joined his Lord and Saviour.
He gave all he had till the very end and still had that positive attitude and huge smile which carried him through the toughest times.
He felt very blessed to have his pastor, Curt Wiggers of Crossroads Christian Fellowship Community Church, along with congregation members and friends, Don Volger and Perry and Manon Schjolin visit him a couple weeks ago. The four made the trip from Pagosa Springs to Dewey to fulfill James’ dying wish to be baptized. That baptism was performed March 11, 2013.
Although James was raised in Arizona where his immediate family lives, he always was proud to call Pagosa Springs his home. He had an incredible extended family here. He loved the area and the people. He called it God’s Country.
He leaves behind two brothers who live in Colorado: Rusty, in Pagosa Springs, and Weston, in Yuma; his mother Dena Riley, sister Misty Matthews, nieces Shianne LaRue Matthews and Alisa Matthews, grandmother Barbara Murray, uncle John Murray, aunts Susan Murray Anderson and Tina Murray, and cousin Tyler Murray, all of Dewey, Ariz.; cousins Tasha Ramirez, Angelina Pratt, Aaliyah Lopez, Junior Lopez, Angelina Leon and Issaih Pratt of Peoria, Ariz.; stepsisters Doreen Riley and Starla, and nephews Morgan and Kyle Duwell of Harrisburg, Ore.
He has now joined his stepdad Jimmy Riley and grandfather James Murray and others that have gone before him. What a joyous day that must have been for them all.
His mother, Dena, plans on returning to Pagosa Springs in the near future to have a memorial service to celebrate his life with his friends and extended family. Look for postings of that event.
For such a young and small statured man, James touched so many people in this little town of Pagosa Springs. In such a short period of time.
James will miss you all and he thanks you for being a huge part of his life.
He will see you all again on the other side.