He was born on June 26, 1933 in Alba, Texas to Herschel and Ruth Smiley, who both preceded him in death.
Jim moved to California in his early teen years and graduated form John Burroughs High School in Burbank, Ca., in 1951. After serving two years in the United States Air Force, Jim returned to California to marry former Burroughs classmate, Geraldine Ann Bergin, on October 2, 1954.
Together they formed a family with the birth of their daughter Susan Marie, and son James William. The family moved to La Crescenta in 1968, establishing roots in a community they would call home for the rest of Jim’s life. He started work as a sheet metal worker and air conditioner installer before moving into sales and management, eventually buying his own heating and air conditioning business in the mid-1970s. A small business owner for the rest of his working career, Jim retired in 1998. Along the way, he was an active member in the Optimist Club and Chamber of Commerce.
Chief among Jim’s passions was his grandkids. For 25 years, if there was an athletic event that a grandchild played in, Jim was there to cheer and offer his unconditional love and support. It gave him great joy to see them compete. Jim liked to interact with the other players and parents who always included him and treated him with respect. Another lifelong passion was teaching each of his seven grandchildren to fish. Whether at a stream or lake, or on a deep-sea boat, Jim was all smiles when his line was in the water. This August Jim ventured out for one last deep sea fishing trip, landing a 21-pound Yellowfin Tuna that gave Jim all he could handle in what would be his final epic catch – the big one that didn’t get away.
Jim is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, Gerry Smiley, daughter Susan and her husband Joe Schramm and their children Margaret and her husband Jordan Duba, Hank and his fiancé David Dawson, Parker and his wife Elyse, Duncan, and Grant; son Jim and his wife Mashitah and their children Jimmy and Will.
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, November 8 at 1:00 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 2657 Honolulu Ave., Montrose, Ca., 91020.