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James Riley Shields, Jr.

Birth Date: May 4, 1938
Death Date: December 5, 2014

May 4, 1938 – December 5, 2014

James R. Shields Jr. (Jay or J.R. to friends and family – I just called him Dad) was the first born child of James Riley Shields and Amy Enlowe Shields. He was born on May 4, 1938 in Coffeeville, Ms. He grew up in Greenville, Ms. with his two brothers Bill and Tom, with who he got in to a great deal of mischief, and his sister Deborah Joan, who he insisted on taking on ALL of his dates. He left home after graduating from Greenville high school and joined the U.S. Naval Reserve where he discovered, when it was to late and he was stationed on a ship, that he is prone to sea sickness so severe it was disabling. Soon after he left the U.S. Navy and joined the U.S. Air Force to which he dedicated the next 40 years of his life as an Electronic Installation Specialist.
His first duty station was McChord AFB in Tacoma Wa. This is where he met the lovely seductress Vineta Mildred Fickel who was a Radio Operator from Oakland, Ca. Very soon after their meeting they were married on May 18, 1960. Nine months and 6 days after their wedding, and people WERE calculating the timing on their fingers and toes, their first Daughter Deborah Lynn Shields was born on February 24, 1961, who had such a long umbilical cord it included a mile marker. They were then transferred to Crystal Springs Air Force Base in Mississippi where they created the most incredible product of their union, their one and only son, David Lester Shields born June 11, 1963 in Hazelhurst Ms. Once perfection had arrived they were recalled to McChord AFB, Hmmmm always wondered what booboo he made that required them to return to the scene of the crime! Any who they had not yet figured out what was causing these pregnancies, and wouldn’t you know it, along comes another one! Melanie Gay Shields was born on October 22, 1965, some say she was chatting on a phone with the stork when she came out. Once he had finished fixing whatever the booboo was the Air Force rewarded him with a transfer the Pentagon for some very hush hush work that he wasn’t allowed to talk about. A few years later, when the “perfect” child burned down their mobile home, the Air Force decided – well as long as you’re homeless we’re going to transfer you to San Antonio Tx. And after only nine months in Texas he was givin his walking papers and was transferred, yet again, to McClellan Air Force Base in N. Highlands, Ca. where the nomadic couple bought their first and only home, planted their roots so deep from which nothing short of global destruction would ever uproot them. He completed his years of active duty with the Air Force and retired in 1979. Rather than sit around the house being bored out of his skull, he decided to go to college and earned a degree as an Electronics Computer Technician which he completed in 1981. Once he completed his degree he began a new career of driving his wife nuts by hanging around the house. This career was quickly brought to an end when she told him to, “get a hobby, get another degree, take up jogging anything, just get out from under my feet or I WILL HURT YOU!” So he went back to work for the Air Force doing the same job as he had in his active duty years but at twice the pay – yeah college degree! During his Civil Service duty he twice became a grandfather, PawPaw to the grandchildren (the role he was born to play) to Tristan Lee House and Gracie Vineta Bumpers. No grandfather in the history of grandfathers ever said yes more than PawPaw.
He completed his Civil Service duty and achieved his second retirement. He then tried to return to his hang around the house career which was quickly nipped in the bud by his beautiful and loving wife who told him, “get a hobby, get another degree, take up long walks off a short pier (he was to old for jogging), anything, just get out from under my feet or I WILL HURT YOU!” And thus began his career with the North Highlands branch of Bank of America where he became the light in the eyes of every little old blue haired lady who crossed his path. In 2002 he arrived to work one morning and was so pale that when the Fire Department arrived they wouldn’t wait for the ambulance and he got his first and only ride on a fire truck straight to the E.R. He had had numerous heart attacks that morning and as a result was forced to retire from Bank of America. I believe that his retirement date is still a local day of mourning for little old blue haired ladies missing their grey haired romeo, who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus!
After he left BofA his next grandchild Brayden Garfield-Riley Chase was born in 2005. The ONLY person on earth he would ever allow to change the channel on his television away from the Fox News Channel. Brayden gave him the alibi he needed to switch from being a Fox News addict to becoming a cartoon junkie. Through Braden he was able to get his animation fix on a daily basis. He tried to deny it even when mother or I would walk through the living room and catch him watching Spongebob Squarepants LONG after Braden had gone home for dinner. Dad was fortunate to stay with us long enough to meet, and celebrate the first birthday of, his first great-granddaughter River Fey Riley House born to his Grandson Tristan and his girlfriend Gina Goranova.
Dad left us to join his parents and younger sister Deborah Joan in peace in the early morning hours of December 6, 2014. In his passing he did what he had done his entire life, he put his family first and foremost in his thoughts. You see, I believe that Dad chose when to go. If he had passed one hour earlier the life insurance policy he had purchased just one year earlier would have paid at a reduced rate. It was this quality that set Dad heads and shoulders above the rest, no matter what the situation Dad made his family his highest priority and never did anything without considering how it would affect his family first.
I truly feel that there is not one single family on the face of this Earth who has ever existed, exists, or ever will exist, that had, have or will have a better Father and Husband. I feel lucky and honored to have had James Riley Shields Jr. as my father, and I look forward to the day I will get to see him again.
David Lester Shields

Sunset Lawn Chapel of the Chimes Memorial Park
4701 Marysville Boulevard Sacramento, CA 95838
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  1. I was proud to have served in the 1833rd /1849th with Jay. He was a wonderful NCO and a steady man. My deepest condolences to his Bride Nita, and kids, Debbie, Melanie and Son David. Rest in Peace my friend.

  2. J.R. was a neighbor, friend, playmate to the Sanders girls, Shirley, Virginia, and Myrtis. We rode the school bus together and his daddy was the driver. The last time I saw him was at Tommy's home in Greenville. Neta and Billy were there also along with all of his classmates he could scrape up. He had a single red rose for each of the girls! That is the way he was! Rest in Peace my friend!

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