James Anthony “Jim” Ridley III passed away on October 12, 2021, at age 79. His passing leaves one less good guy in town. I met Jim in 1970, as a young reporter assigned to the federal beat. Jim was the law clerk for U.S. District Judge Robert L. Taylor.
Judge Taylor was a curmudgeon with a twinkle in his eye. Jim Ridley was smart, quick to laugh and very helpful to a reporter who valued “getting it right” just after “getting it first.” I’d ask him to explain a ruling or a point of law, and he would say, “Why just come in here and ask the judge.” And I came to love and respect Judge Taylor, his staff and the lawyers who practiced in his court.
Jim Ridley grew up on a farm in Sumner County. He got his bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt and served in active ground combat in Vietnam. He ranked third in his class at UT Law School and became a partner in the Kramer Rayson law firm. He later started a solo practice in Fountain City.
According to his obituary, Jim was an active member in AA for over 40 years and founded a local chapter of the “Lawyers for Concerned Lawyers” to help recovering lawyers deal with substance abuse problems. He enjoyed helping people and in his later years volunteered at The Fish Pantry, picking up donations from area restaurants to be served to the homeless. He was a long-time member of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, 800 S. Northshore Dr., where a celebration of life will be held at noon Monday, October 25, with his burial on Tuesday, October 26, in Gallatin. Additional information is here.