April 15, 1924—November 20, 2017
James M. Smiley passed away peacefully in Reno, Nevada on November 20, 2017. Jim was born April 15, 1924 in Lehi, Utah to parents Orville and Evelyn Smiley. Due to the depression Jim’s family was forced to leave the ranch and move to McGill, Nevada. The copper mine, Kennecott Corporation, were paying more than trying to sustain the family on the ranch and there they remained until he was 12 years old. Jim related fond memories of sledding on McGill Streets, going to movies at the McGill Theater, swimming in the McGill swimming pool and playing baseball. Orville took over operation of the Smiley Cattle Ranch in Starr Valley at the base of the Ruby Mountains from his father and Jim moved to Starr Valley where he spent the next 73 years ranching the Smiley Ranch with his father Orville Smiley, mother Evelyn Smiley and brother Edward (Ned) Smiley and sister-in-law Betty Smiley. As a child in Starr Valley Jim, his sister Muriel Smiley Kent and brother Edward Smiley attended the one room Starr Valley School house (seventh and eighth grades) then graduating from Wells High School with the class of 1942. Jim was an outstanding student and carried on his lifetime love of reading and history.
After High School Jim worked on the Smiley Ranch where he, his father, mother and brother and sister in law together acquired the Corey Ranch and thousands of acres of grazing land, built houses, barns, and watering stations developing a successful ranching operation in the beautiful Ruby Mountains of Northeastern Nevada. In 2009 Jim moved to Fallon, Nevada where he lived with and was cared for by his sister Muriel, and brother-in-law Robert Kent and their daughters Cynthia Dillon and Kristi Evers forming close relationships with his nieces and nephew, great-nieces and great-nephews but his heart remained in Starr Valley. In 2015 Jim moved to Reno where he was cared for by his nephew Stephen Smiley Kent and Steve’s wife Mayla Kent.
Jim was a very quiet (sometimes maddingly so) but a thoughtful, gentle, kind, person of few words. Jim was happiest on a spring day in the big meadow watching the creek flowing from Ruby mountain springs or snowmelt riding Cherry, reading, or spending time with his family. Jim would always have a smile at the sight of a happy child or “pooch” or animal.
Jim was proudly the longest living of his siblings at the age of 93. He was preceded in death by his parents Orville and Evelyn Smiley, his brother Ned Smiley and sister-in-law Betty (Jones) Smiley, sister Muriel S. Kent and brother in law Robert R. Kent and nephew Timothy Smiley. Jim is survived by his nephew Stephen S. Kent (Mayla), nieces Kristi Evers (David), Tracie Smiley Fitzgerald (Kevin), Cynthia Kent-Dillon (Eric) and great nephews and nieces Kristopher Kent (Jill), Kimberly Kent, Kara Gurries (Ray), Cole Dillon, Olivia Dillon, Lane Dillon, Mariel Evers, Andrew Evers, Allyson Evers, Meghan Smiley, Colleen Smiley, and Cory Smiley and 4 great, great nephews and nieces Hugo Kent, Adeline Gurries, Cora Kent and Rachel Gurries.
A celebration of Jim’s life will be held Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. at the Wells Presbyterian Church followed by burial at the Starr Valley Cemetery.