West Orange Resident James Reitberger, 28, Loses Battle to Leukemia

James Reitberger throws out the first pitch of the PAL Baseball season on April 26, 2014. Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE, NJ - Lifelong West Orange resident James Steven Reitberger, 28, lost his battle with leukemia on Jan. 6.

Born in Livingston, Reitberger and his family moved to West Orange, where he played PAL baseball and football and attended West Orange Schools. In addition to playing, Reitberger coached PAL baseball with his father for several years.

Before becoming ill, he worked as a forklift driver and as a Deejay known as “DJ Shamis,” playing clubs and events in the area. Reitberger was also a member of Orange Elks Lodge #135.

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TAP into West Orange caught up with Reitberger on April 26, 2014 at the PAL Baseball Opening Day. Reitberger, who had recently been diagnosed, was honored by PAL and threw out the first pitch of the season.

"I'm feeling pretty good," said Reitberger at the time. "Things are moving in an upward direction." 

PAL trustee Otto Torrisi was emotional as he introduced Reitberger on Opening Day. "Kids who go through the PAL system are considered part of our family," said Torrisi. "James is one of those kids." 

James Reitberger is survived by his mother, Anita Ricciardelli, his father, James, and his stepmother Cindy Reitberger (nee Faas). He was the beloved brother of Dillon and Bryan Reitberger. He is the grandson of June Reitberger and the late Anita and Frank Ricciardelli. He is also survived by numerous aunts, uncles, family and friends.

Rich McDonald is a Lieutenant with the West Orange Police Department, and was a close friend of Reitberger's. He paid tribute to his friend, saying, "James was a West Orange boy and truly a “down the hill” kid at heart. And that is a compliment. It means that James was never a fake. He was 100% loyal to his friends and fiercely devoted to his family. He was a PAL baseball coach, a friend, a brother, and a rockstar usually in the same day. He didn’t care what people thought of him and was proud to be himself 24 hours a day. His insanely honest Facebook rants became legendary. He was not politically correct. He was a celebrity living amongst mortals. He was DJ Shamis. He was James."

A wake will be held at Dangler Funeral Home, 340 Main Street, on Friday, Jan. 9, from 3:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Funeral Services will be held on Saturday, Jan. 10, at Dangler beginning at 8:30 a.m., with a funeral mass at 10:00 a.m., at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 1 Eagle Rock Ave. The burial will follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, 225 Ridgedale Avenue in East Hanover.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in James' name to: West Orange PAL, PO Box 71 TCB, West Orange, NJ 07052. View the obituary here.

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