James Stewart Riley, Th.D. answered the call of his God and finished his life on earth on the 21st of November 2011, at his home in Sugar Land after a lengthy illness.
Born on the 4th of March 1918, in Memphis, Tennessee, to James Titus and Mattie Sue Stewart Riley, he grew up in Memphis and Germantown, Tennessee. At age 17, he preached his first sermon in Cordova Baptist Church. James graduated from Germantown High School and Union University, Jackson, Tennessee. During and following his university days, he pastored in Mississippi and Tennessee. While pastoring Eudora Baptist Church in Memphis he married Margaret Cansler on the 20th of August 1942. In 1944 he enrolled in Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, where he completed both a Master's and Doctor's degree in Theology. While pursuing his seminary education he pastored First Baptist Churches in Caddo Mills, Wills Point, and Paris, Texas. In 1956, he assumed the pastorate of Second Baptist Church, Houston where he led the church in its major relocation from downtown to the present Woodway site and in the construction of the initial education, recreation & worship facilities.
In 1976, Dr. Riley joined the Religion & Philosophy faculty of Houston Baptist University. While teaching at HBU, he held interim pastorates and was a pulpit and teaching guest at numerous area churches, both Baptist and other denominations. He was a member of the American Philosophical Society and the Association of Baptist Teachers of Religion.
Dr. Riley served as Vice President of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and as a trustee for the Southern Baptist Foundation, Southwestern Seminary, East Texas Baptist College, San Marcus Baptist Academy and the Christian Life Commission of Texas. He served as a trustee of Memorial Herman Hospital System, HBU, and the Oldham Little Church Foundation. He was a member of the Houston Downtown Rotary Club and the court appointed Biracial/Triethnic Committee which guided the integration of HISD.
In 1985 Dr. Riley and Margaret joined South Main Baptist Church where he taught the Men's Bible Class for many years. On the occasion of his 92nd birthday, he was honored by the Men's Bible Class with a tribute describing him as "a master scholar, an expositor of scripture, pastor, professor, and teller of 1001 humorous stories."
Dr. Riley is survived by his wife, Margaret; his children, James S. Riley Jr. and his wife, Merrily, of Houston, Jay Riley and his wife, Ann, of Emerald Bay, Jeanne Riley Blackmon and her husband, Bill, of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, Jan Riley John and her husband, Peter, of Austin; his grandchildren, Carey Riley Hair and her husband, Rusty, James S. Riley III, Catherine Riley Buckles and her husband, Nathan, Melissa Riley, Jason James Riley, Braden Blackmon and his wife, Lori, Bowman Blackmon, Nathan Stewart John, Brian Morrison John, and Andrew Riley John; and great-grandchildren, James Thomas, Amanda, and Elaina Hair; Nadia, Eli, and Gage Buckles; and William James and Xavier James Blackmon; and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents; his sister, Lillian Riley West; and his brother, Joseph Titus Riley.
In celebration of Dr. Riley's life, friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from six until eight o'clock in the evening on Friday, the 25th of November, at Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.
The interment service is to be conducted at eleven o'clock in the morning on Saturday, the 26th of November, at Forest Park Westheimer Cemetery.
The memorial service is to be conducted at half-past one o'clock in the afternoon, also on Saturday, at South Main Baptist Church, 4100 Main St., Houston, TX, 77002, where Dr. Steve Wells, Dr. Tim VanDuivendyk, and Jeannette Clift George are to officiate. Immediately following, all are invited to greet the family during a reception in the adjacent Fellowship Hall.
Serving as honorary pallbearers are the Men's Bible Class of South Main Baptist Church.
In lieu of customary remembrances, contributions in Dr. Riley's memory may be directed to Memorial-Hermann Foundation, 929 Gessner Rd., Ste. 2700, Houston, TX, 77024; Texas Baptist Children's Home Foundation, 1301 N. Mays St., Round Rock, TX, 78664;
, P.O. Box 96011, Washington, D.C., 20090-6011; or to the charity of one's choice.
"He died yet through his faith he is still speaking." Hebrews 11:4 KJV