James McNally

Obituary of James McNally

Retired Superior Court Judge James McNally passed away peacefully on November 16, 2023. He is survived by his loving children Douglas Richards (Nancy), Ellen Johnston (Tom), and Mary McNally (Steve). He has six grandchildren Lisa, Christie, Matthew, Thomas, Timothy, and Benjamin, and six great-grandchildren.

Jim McNally was born and raised on a small farm near Sioux City, Iowa where he attended Heelan Catholic High. He attended St. Ambrose College, Davenport, Iowa, Creighton University School of Law and graduated from University of South Dakota School of Law, Vermillion, South Dakota.

In 1962, he was appointed Assistant US District Attorney for North Dakota by Attorney General Robert F Kennedy. In 1964, he was elected to and served one term in the Iowa State Senate. In 1969 he moved to Ojai, CA after the death of his first wife, Mary Elizabeth. In 1970, he was admitted to the State Bar of CA and practiced criminal law in Ventura. In 1971, he married Mary Richards. He continued to practice law until 1982 when he was appointed to the Superior Court. He served as a Superior Court Judge for more than 12 years retiring in 1995. Judge McNally spent six years in Dependency Court dealing with cases involving abuse and neglect of children.

Disabled by polio at age 17, McNally walked with crutches for 55 years, then in the last years of his life he rode an electric scooter. Jim was undaunted by his disability; he had many creative pursuits in addition to his remarkable career in law. He was an exceptional artist, painting in both oil and water color media, a sculptor, a beautiful writer, and a wry storyteller. Jim was a deeply spiritual man known for his sense of humor and a kind word for everyone.

He was also a long-time member of Alcoholics Anonymous, having recovered from alcoholism in March 1972. A member for 51 years, Jim cherished helping others with their addiction. He was loved by the countless friends he had in the program and in the community. There will be a Celebration of Life Memorial AA meeting at the Cabrillo Pavilion Event Center from 3-5 p.m. on January 5, 2024. He will be cremated and interred at Santa Barbara Cemetery in a private family ceremony.

Donations can be made in Jim’s honor to:

St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital

501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

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Celebration of Life

3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Friday, January 5, 2024
Cabrillo Pavillion
1118 E Cabrillo Boulevard
Santa Barbara, California, United States
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