A true Renaissance Man passed peacefully on March 20, 2020. A newspaperman, business leader, world traveler,
philanthropist and art collector, he was born on August 31, 1943 in Madison, Wisconsin to James E. Conley, MD and
Lillian Quirk Conley. James “Jim” Conley will be remembered through his media legacy of weekly and daily newspapers, shoppers, city
magazines, trade publications and extensive art collections that will continue to be open to the public through the Heritage
Museum of Asian Art in Chicago and the Tucson Desert Art Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
He began his career in newspapers in 1967 at the Wall Street Journal and in 1969 purchased the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen
newspaper with a business partner, Francis “Bill” Connors. Thus, began a lifelong love affair of newspapering… acquiring
and building them throughout his life, including the Waukesha Freeman, The West Bend Daily News, Oconomowoc
Enterprise, Daily Citizen, Ozaukee County News Graphic and others. Jim started two city magazines, Tucson Lifestyle in
1983 and MKE Lifestyle in 1993 and in 1990 began publishing a trade magazine for the media industry, News and Tech.
Through his many endeavors, he continued to be an active, persistent voice in the necessity for accurate and unbiased
reporting to the American public. Jim’s philanthropic interests were far-reaching and impactful. He was a founding
member of the Beaver Dam Scholarship Foundation, an organization that awards scholarship funds to students to help
attend a 4-year college or technical college of their choice. He supported Beaver Dam’s Clothes 4 Kids, a not-for-profit
organization dedicated to helping children in Dodge County, WI.; served for several years as a member of The Hoover
Institute Board of Overseers and provided funding to the Stanford Research Foundation for the translation of the diaries
of Chiang Kai-shek; and helped many other nonprofit organizations, enhancing their ability to freely promote their public
events and exhibitions. He was a member of the Director’s Circle of the Tucson Museum of Art and past president of the
museum’s Patrons of Western Art group.
As a world traveler and collector, Jim believed in sharing his collections with the public, exhibiting his Oriental collections
(Han and Beyond) at the Tucson Museum of Art for six years and Summer in China at the Milwaukee Art Museum. His
southwestern art collections have been shown at the Denver Art Museum, Tucson Museum of Art and now are open to the
public in a museum he founded in Tucson, Ariz. A prodigious reader, he enjoyed being on top of “everything that’s
remotely important.” He spent several years compounding information on the importance of various omegas in the diet
and wrote about the subject years before the medical community got on board.
Jim is survived by his wife, Rhonda R. Smith and their son, Brandt James Conley, as well as son, James Conley III
(Margie), Christopher Conley (Wendy), Brooke Conley (Michael Levien) and their mother Nancy Conley. Jim was
preceded in death by son, Patrick Parker Conley in 1997. He leaves siblings, Emily (William) Keelty, Robert (Lisa) Conley,
Bruce (Karla) Conley, Ellen (Gerald Gensch) Conley, Katherine Brandt Conley. Five grandchildren and numerous nieces,
nephews and cousins also survive.