Award-Winning Investigative Reporter Passes Away

By Andrew Gauthier 

Funeral services were held on Saturday for Jim Rieske, a former investigative reporter from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and a fixture at WZZM-TV for 25 years. Mr. Riekse, 63, died Wednesday at Saint Mary’s Health Care in Grand Rapids.

Mr. Rieske started as an investigative reporter at WZZM-TV, an ABC affiliate in Muskegon, in 1971. He was the first reporter to interview Gerald R. Ford at the White House following his elevation to the presidency in 1974.

WZZM-TV anchor Lee Van Ameyde, who joined the station in 1977, told the Grand Rapids Press that Mr. Riekse “was a true investigative reporter and almost a stereotype. His tie always was askew and his hair messed. He was hard-driving, loud, a chain smoker and quite a character to work with.”


Of his 25 years at WZZM, Riekse recalled “some real highs and some real lows, basically a very positive experience that I’ll never forget and a wonderful place to work.”

Mr. Rieske left broadcast journalism in 1995 to become executive director of the Grand Rapids Service Corps. He was a founder of the Grand Rapids Youth Boxing Foundation and worked with the Nature Conservancy. He also was a political consultant for many candidates and causes, and a proud Democrat. He served as the coordinated campaign manager in West Michigan for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.

In addition to his son, Jim Riekse III, Mr. Riekse is survived by his parents, Dr. James and Helena Riekse; a daughter, Jamie McWilliams; four sisters, Nancy Norden, Meredith Riekse, Judith Marcus and Laurel Hoesch; and three grandchildren.