Cover photo for Jesse Riley's Obituary
1934 Jesse 2022

Jesse Riley

March 11, 1934 — June 28, 2022

Jesse Austin “Bud” (in Idaho) & “Mike” (in Oklahoma) Riley, passed away peacefully on June 28, 2022 at the age of 88 years old.  He last few days he was surrounded by family, friends and those who loved him dearly.  He was a cherished Husband, Dad, Father-in-Law, Grandfather, Brother & Friend to so many.

Jess was the second oldest of five children born in Rigby, Idaho on March 11, 1934, to Max & Louise Riley.  Jess had an amazing childhood living in Rigby, working, playing and experiencing life – like that of Opie in the “Andy Griffith TV Show.”  When Jess was in high school, he got two of his fingers caught in the pulley belt of a lawnmower, which resulted in him losing the top portion of these two fingers.  At school, he was required to learn to type, which Jess told his teacher he couldn’t do because of these two fingers.  His teacher said, you can and you will learn to type.  Despite failing his first test, he was determined to learn what his teacher believed he could do and was proficient at typing by the end of that school year.  Jess’s successes in life would be attributable to his intelligence, hard work, determination, passion & stubbornness.  When life told him he couldn’t, he found a way to do it anyway.

Jess had an incredible childhood in Idaho, but he knew his life calling was far away from small town Rigby.  After graduating from Rigby High School, he packed up and moved to Los Angeles, California.  Jess enlisted in the Navy in 1955 and was stationed at US Naval Air Station in Atsugi, Japan on board the USS Lexington with the Fighter Squadron 123.  It was during this time that he worked on planes, and was able to fly in Naval aircrafts, which is where he developed his passion for flying airplanes.  Later in life he earned his private pilot’s license and was a member of the Civil Air Patrol, and owned two airplanes, a Cherokee Warrior & Cessna 182.

Jess was working at Northrup on business in Amarillo Texas, when he met the love of his life, Cecille “Coe” Ellen Riley.  They had a whirlwind romance and 6 weeks later they got married in Coe’s hometown of Sayer, Oklahoma on September 5, 1959.  Jess and Coe settled in LA to embark on their life adventures.

Jess attended Cal State University where he earned his Bachelors’ Degree in Engineering. He spent his professional career as a pioneer developing technology for companies, such as Northrup Grumman, Teledyne & Litton Industries.  Much of his work required Jess to have top secret US Government clearance which took him on business travels around the world, where he claims, “I had no idea what I was doing in those places!” Jess retired at the age of 67, after surviving several heart bypass surgeries and diabetes.

Jess and Coe built their family and network of lifetime friendships in Southern California.  In 1962, their only child, Greg was born.  Greg fondly recalls sitting in the backseat of their car on childhood trips with Jess & Coe, usually traveling from California to either Idaho or Oklahoma to spend vacations with family.  Greg had the best life with his “Pops”.  They would go to Big 5 Sports, Sears, Sizzler, have long talks and made several road trips together. On their very last road trip to Palm Springs, Greg had Jess drive the Porsche, giving Jess a big smile.  In a conversation they had a few days before Jess died, he asked Greg, “…do you have this son? Cause Coe and my Mom and Dad are waiting for me.”

Jess was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since he was a young boy.  He had a testimony of the gospel and cherished the privilege of regularly attending the San Bernadino Temple with Coe and their church friends.  Jess served as Ward Clerk, a member of the Sunday School Presidency and as Scout Master in his home wards.

Jess loved airplanes, flying, studying and building them.  His additional hobbies included, fishing, traveling in his motorhome, his maps, reading the newspaper,, working on his computer and trying to figure out his Iphone.  Jess also volunteered at the Palm Desert Library for 5 years, where he developed some new hobbies collecting books & clocks.

Jess’s greatest hobby was spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren, Jeremy, Heather & Samantha Riley and two his “bonus” grandchildren, Ashton & Tenny Schmidt.  His puppies, Scout & Daisy, provided him with much love and comfort and shall forever be known as Jess Riley’s dogs at the Wentworth.  Stacey, (Jess’s daughter-in-law), was his favorite daughter and she considers herself lucky to have been Jess’s personal “fixer.”   Jess told us all stories of his life, his planes, his friends, his adventures and most recently, how he was going to attend BYU to get his Masters’ Degree.

Jess was loved by his family and he made a positive impact on all those around him.  Jess spend his last year and a half living at the Wentworth in Cottonwood Heights, Utah. He insisted upon returning back to the Wentworth the last few days of his life so he could be around his community family of residents, staff, caregivers & his medical team, whom he loved.  Jess’s family would like to thank all of you for helping Jess feel loved especially after Coe’s passing.

Jess is so happy to be reunited with his sweet wife Coe, who predeceased him in January of 2022.  Jess is survived by his son, Greg (Stacey) Riley; his grandchildren, Jeremy, Heather & Samantha (Nate Merli) Riley; and Ashton & Tennison Schmidt; and his brother Larry (Joyce) Riley.  He is predeceased by his parents, Max & Louise Riley, and his three sisters, Carol, Sharon & Colleen.

We will forever remember Jess’s obsession with his clocks, that constantly ticked and chimed. The ticking and winding of these clocks used to seem unnerving and annoying, but oh how we now long for a few more ticks of time with our sweet Jess.

Funeral Services for Jess will occur on Friday, July 8, 2022 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6890 S Whitmore Way, Cottonwood Heights, UT.  Viewing at 10am. Funeral Services at 11am.  Provided by Cannon Mortuary.

Interment at Memorial Mountain View Cemetery, 3115 Bengal Blvd, Cottonwood Heights, Utah.

Hillside Floral in Cottonwood Heights to provide Flowers, 801-943-8427.

The Funeral Service will be virtually broadcast on Zoom at the following link and passcode:

Meeting ID: 826 2484 1205

Passcode: 644201

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Jesse Riley, please visit our flower store.


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