Cover photo for Riley James Naegle's Obituary
Riley James Naegle Profile Photo
1938 Riley 2023

Riley James Naegle

May 1, 1938 — July 22, 2023

St. George

Riley James ("Jim") Naegle, age 85, passed from this life into the next on the morning of July 22, 2023. Jim was a pillar of strength, love, and service. Jim never met a stranger and was accepting of people from all walks of life. Above all, Jim adored his family, especially his sweetheart of 61 years, Virginia. From his family's perspective, Jim could do anything - from chopping a metric ton of wood to styling his wife's hair every day for almost 50 years. He was often stubborn, gloriously bossy, and had an authoritative answer for every question.

Jim started this life on May 1, 1938 as the second child of Adelaide Savage and Robert W. Naegle in Toquerville, Utah. He was named after his two grandfathers, James Zimmerman Naegle and Riley Cooper Savage. From the beginning, Jim stood out as he was born with six toes on one foot. As a toddler, both Jim and his baby sister, Susan, contracted "whooping cough". Jim survived and Susan did not. One of Jim's earliest memories was seeing his sister's small body in what looked to him to be an apple box. He lived in Toquerville his entire childhood and grew up surrounded by family. Jim enjoyed participating in FFA, raised prize steers, and attended a National Convention in Kansas City at the age of 15. Jim graduated from Hurricane High School, class of 1956 and enjoyed yearly class reunions, attending as recently as last year.

After high school, Jim attended the College of Southern Utah (now SUU) where he participated in student government and played football. Jim served a two and a half year mission in Northern Germany. Before his mission, Jim had never owned a coat and had rarely worn a suit. He was one of the last missionaries to travel to and from Europe by ship. His love of the German people, missionary work, and his fellow missionaries echoed throughout his life. Jim loved good stinky cheese and liverwurst.

Jim graduated with an engineering degree from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. While at the U of U, Jim met Virginia Houston, a beautiful nursing student from St. George, Utah. On September 8, 1962, Jim and Virginia married in the St. George Temple. Their love has been one of those rare relationships of complete devotion and true friendship.

Jim and Virginia welcomed seven children in fifteen years and raised their family in Salt Lake City. Jim chauffeured his brood across the scenic byways and highways of Utah in vehicles customized by Jim including a Dodge maxi van with a custom deck bed and rooftop rack for riding up top on dirt road adventures. Camping and trips to Southern Utah were a family standard. Jim will be remembered for his amazing sourdough waffles, dutch oven Mountain Man breakfast, and his sous chef-like food prep skills. He loved cowboy poetry and to tell a good joke. As the children married and grandkids joined the Naegle clan, Papa Jim with his ever-present plaid shirts and strong, big hands (great for massages and sore necks) became a stalwart for a new generation.

Jim was employed with the Utah Department of Transportation for his entire 30-plus year career and was the State Traffic Engineer and State Environmental Engineer. Jim retired in 1998 and began a new journey of missionary service with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Jim and Virginia served missions in Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, and Trinidad. After more than 40 years living in Salt Lake City, Jim and Virginia returned to live in Southern Utah in 2001. Jim especially loved being a volunteer with the St. George Police Department VIP's program for 10 years.

Jim served in many capacities in his church service. He was a devoted scoutmaster, Sunday School President, and Bishop of the Parleys 5th Ward in Salt Lake City. Jim's lifelong devotion was one of service and for most of his life he never passed a family in need on a highway without stopping and offering assistance. Numerous lives have been touched by Jim's kindness and generosity.

Jim is survived by his wife, Virginia, his brother John (Caroline), two brother-in-laws Ralph and Van and his sister-in-laws Theresa (Lloyd), Mary Grace, and Marva. He is survived by his seven children, Robert (Natalie), Louis (Ashley), Lucinda (Alan), Rebecca (Eric), Ryan (Sarah), Lorelei (Joe) and Rochelle (Louis) and 36 grandchildren and two step great-grandchildren

A funeral will be held on August 12, 2023 at 11 am at the LDS Chapel at 1095 St. James Lane, St. George, Utah. Jim will be buried at the Toquerville City cemetery.  Virginia and the Naegle family give special thanks to Renew Hospice and the St. George Fire Department. To reflect Jim’s spirit and life of service, in lieu of flowers to the family, please donate to your favorite charity, or give flowers to someone to brighten their day. Thank you. 

To send flowers to the family in memory of Riley James Naegle, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Saturday, August 12, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Mountain time)

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Funeral Service

Saturday, August 12, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Mountain time)


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