James "Jimmy" Riches

James Jimmy Riches
World Trade Center

A Way With Women

Among the firemen sifting debris at ground zero is a battalion chief, James Riches, who is searching for his son and namesake, known to his family as Little Jimmy.

Jimmy Riches, who would have turned 30 on Sept. 12, is the oldest of four brothers in a family in which uniformed service is a way of life. He served seven years in the Police Department before joining the Fire Department two years ago.

Rita Riches, Big Jimmy's wife and Little Jimmy's mother, does not bemoan her fate. Her second son, Timothy, is a police officer who expects to join the Fire Department next month. Her third, Danny, a college sophomore, placed high on the police exam, which boys like these routinely take as teenagers. Her fourth, Thomas, is a junior at Xavier High School.

Jimmy Riches was a basketball star in high school and college, a gregarious bartender on his nights off. He drove a Mercedes convertible, had a share in a beach house on the Jersey Shore. And he had a way with women. A parade of girlfriends have paid condolence calls, Mrs. Riches said, each wearing a firehouse T-shirt from Jimmy. "They all think they're the only one that has one," she said. "I'm dying the whole visit, hoping another one doesn't show up at the same time."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 24, 2001.

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