Body of Former UM Dean Found in Flathead Lake

By Beacon Staff

POLSON – The president of the University of Montana identified the man whose body was found Monday in Flathead Lake as James D. Kriley, a former dean of the university’s School of Fine Arts and the former artistic director of the Montana Repertory Theatre.

UM President George Dennison issued a statement Tuesday informing the community of Kriley’s death.

“He was really a force for the arts,” Dennison said. “He was a campus citizen of the first order. … It is a big loss for the university.”

Lake County Search and Rescue recovered Kriley’s body from Flathead Lake after a couple reported that a sailboat drifted up to their dock with no one on it.

The sheriff’s office determined that the sailboat came from a marina in Big Arm Bay. Search and rescue arranged for a pilot to fly over the bay Monday afternoon, and a body was spotted from the air.

The 65-year-old Kriley, who wasn’t wearing a life jacket, is the second UM professor to die in Big Arm Bay this year. In January, Henry “Hank” Harrington, former chairman of UM’s Department of English, died of hypothermia along with his wife Nancy after their canoe apparently capsized in the then-icy waters of Flathead.

Searchers were still looking Tuesday for the body of 70-year-old Larry E. “Ty” Beardsley, who is missing and presumed drowned in Flathead Lake after jumping off a boat on Friday evening.