James Archie Riley, affectionately known as “Jam” to some and “Guitar Jam” to others, was born on December 11, 1953 in Brunson, South Carolina. He attended Fairfax Training School, Lincoln Avenue Elementary, Lakeland Jr. High where he played saxophone in the band and sang in the chorus, and Kathleen Sr. High School where he played football as a running back and was a part of the band there. He was a very proud Boy Scout and traveled to Washington D.C. with Troop 999.
He was a successful businessman, Founder, President and CEO of Riley Construction Company Inc. and Riley Homes Builder Inc. He was a born again Christian and faithful member of New Bethel AME Church for many years where he served in the music department in various positions including Minister of Music and Director of the Men of Valor Male Chorus. He was the writer of most of the songs, and produced the God is Able CD, where he led most of the songs and played most of the instruments. He enjoyed playing the Guitar and Keyboard and played for numerous churches in and around Polk County over the course of his life. He taught himself to play both instruments proficiently, at an early age. He loved to fish and was a fisherman, and the Captain of his boat. He would always say “It is so peaceful out on the water”. James travelled to many countries including Paris, France; Belize, Central America; Puerto Rico, Bahamas, and Ekpoma, Nigeria, spreading the gospel in music and song across the world. As a young man he was a part of the “Soul Swingers band”. James later became the Founder and Leader of The Soul Fascinations, where he wrote, produced, and released two singles; Super Cool, and Living in a Lonesome House is not Living. He loved life, his children, and his grandchildren were very special to him. Most of all he loved the Lord. To show his love for the community, James was the founder of the non-profit “Help is on the Way Ministries”. He sponsored food drives for the homeless and back-to-school drives with backpacks and school supplies for children in the community. He was the recipient of the Citizen Honor Award for his acts of valor when he stepped in and halted a stampede at the Lakeland Center preventing injury of many people.
He was preceded in death by his father and mother; the late Mr. Henry Riley, and Mrs. Mary Riley Dodson, his sister, Evangelist Johnnie Mae Martinez, and brother Henry Riley Jr.
He is survived by his loving family; his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, sisters and brothers, and a host of other relatives and friends.
Condolences may be sent to the family at Oldham Funeral Home.