James “Jim” Arthur Priestly of West Point, California, died of cancer on July 31, 2018, surrounded by his family in the mountains he loved.
Jim was born in Caro on May 9, 1954, to M. Eugeana (Rohlfs) and Donald Priestley. He was the beloved oldest grandson and adored by his aunts and uncles.
He grew up with his siblings, cousins and neighbor boys in the creeks and woods around Akron. They wore out the gravel road with rafts, fishing poles, homemade swords and ponies constant trotting.
He started his lifetime of adventures in Michigan’s upper peninsula and worked his way to Florida. Then he rode throughout the west on a 1964 Harley Electroglide and ran into the ocean at Half-Moon Bay, California in 1979.
He became an expert in welding, woodwork, metalwork and human nature through stories and music. He loved horses and dogs, boats, fishing, motorcycles and airplanes. He got his pilot’s license in Palo Alto, California.
Jim was living in San Francisco when he met Fatima. They married in 1989 and brought baby Tatiana to Bummerville Road in West Point in 1990. Baby Cybelle came in 1994. They built Bummerville Feed and Fuel and collected a menagerie of farm animals, a solid team of Belgians and a village of friends. They designed and built a custom “Cinderella” horse carriage for weddings and events in Reno, Lake Tahoe and northern California. It was important for Jim to make time for his work with Blue Mountain Search and Rescue.
The family traveled to Cape Verdean Islands in 2006 to arrange the adoption of their daughter, Natalie. For the last ten years, he traveled with his guitar in his truck and the plans in his head for a half-million-dollar barge. Everyone he knew was invited to sit with him and the dogs at the open door of the Timberwolf, with a guitar, a project or a story.
Jim is survived by his wife, Fatima of West Point, California; daughters: Tatiana of Folsom, Cybelle of Half-Moon Bay, and Natalie of West Point, California; sisters: Linda (Al) Spomer of West Point, California and Diane Arnold of Caro; brothers: Scott Priestley of Blountsville, Alabama and Chris (Peggy) Priestly of Akron. Jim is predeceased by his maternal grandparents, Glyde and Evelyn Rohlfs and paternal grandparents, Clifford and Alice Priestly. Jim’s many nieces and nephews have stacks of memories of grand and goofy times with their Uncle Jim.
A memorial celebration of Jim’s life was held at the West Point Youth Center on August 10, 2018 from 6-9 p.m. Attendees were encouraged to bring their guitars and harmonicas.

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