James D. Shea
Chief Warrant Officer 3 James Douglas Shea (US Army, retired), 75, went to his Lord and savior
on Saturday, November 14, 2009, after a short illness. He died at his rural Manhattan home surrounded by his family.
Jim, "Jimmy" to his family and close friends, was born March 3, 1934, in Wamego, Kansas, the son of George Douglas and Mary Neva (Long) Shea. Jim grew up in Wamego, and graduated from Wamego High School in 1952.
Jim served with distinction during a twenty-year career in the military. Following a year at Kansas State University where he majored in history and political science, he joined the United States Army, volunteering for Airborne duty. While serving as an intelligence analyst with the 9th Field Artillery during his first tour of duty at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Jim met the love of his life, Wilma Dean Rinks. They were married on April 24, 1955. Their marriage was blessed with four children, Terri, Kelly, Timothy, and Daniel. Jim and Wilma were married for nearly 38 years, until her death on March 4, 1993. On June 24, 1995, he married Jane "Judy" Mills; she survives.
Briefly leaving the Army for better pay in the United States Air Force, Jim and Wilma served a tour of duty at McConnell Air Force Base, Wichita, Kansas, again with his duty in intelligence. He then transferred into the United States Army to return to his beloved paratroopers, accepting a position as a Warrant Officer. Subsequently, Jimmy spent the remainder of his military career as a proud member of the Military Intelligence community and Airborne Corps.
During his career, Jim served overseas tours in Italy, the Republic of Korea, and the Republic of Vietnam, primarily as an aerial imagery interpreter. He was singularly proud of the fact that he served in every US Airborne Division (the 11th, 82nd and 101st) and the 18th Airborne Corps. He ran counter-intelligence operations for the 112th Military Intelligence Group while stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas, until his retirement from the Army in 1973. Jim was rated in every area of military intelligence and developed imagery interpretation techniques that are still in use today. His greatest pride was his service with the 1st BDE, 101st Airborne during combat operations in Vietnam in 1965. During those operations, Jim was personally responsible for developing daily intelligence for field use. He was also involved in counter-intelligence operations, actively participating in several operations netting intelligence operatives in Korea and the United States. He completed two combat tours in the Dominican Republic and Vietnam. Jim's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal (w/3 OLC), the Good Conduct Medal (w/3 OLC), the Korean Defense Service Medal, the Vietnamese Campaign Medal (w/2 stars), the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, the Meritorious Unit Citation, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Senior Parachutist's Badge, and the Vietnamese Parachutist's Badge. He also received several other service and schooling ribbons.
Upon his retirement from military service, Jim worked for Balderson, Inc., in Wamego, Kansas. He then taught high school history at Flint Hills Christian School, in Manhattan, Kansas, until his retirement. Jim is fondly remembered by his former students as a teacher, historian, friend, coach, and mentor. Because of his service and devotion to his students, and because of the impact he had on their lives, the Flint Hills Christian School established the annual Shea Invitational Basketball Tournament in his honor.
Jim was a member of the First Assembly of God Church in Manhattan, Kansas. His favorite pastime was gardening and being in the outdoors. He loved to hunt and fish with his children and his grandchildren. He was a lover of collegiate sports, and a loyal KSU football, basketball, and baseball fan. He was also an avid reader, and he particularly enjoyed reading about different cultural histories, especially about Mayan cultures. He also enjoyed reading legal mystery novels. He and his son, Dan, would
often read the same book simultaneously and chat each Saturday on the telephone to compare their ideas about the book. Jim's greatest love was being with his children and grandchildren. His family will remember him as a kind, compassionate, caring, gentle, loving man who passed down to them a tremendous legacy"”a legacy of faith.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Wilma, in 1993; two nieces, Shea Marie on March 12, 1955, and Elizabeth on April 6, 2002; and a sister, Mary Ann Shumacher on January 5, 2009.
Survivors include his wife, Judy, of the home; a sister, Sally McGowan and her husband Sam of St. George, Kansas; and a brother-in-law "Cork" Schumacher of Wamego, Kansas. Survivors also include his children, Terri Baumchen and her husband Peter of Hutchinson, Kansas; Kelly Welch and her husband David of Manhattan, Kansas; Timothy Shea and his wife Michele of Spring Hill, Kansas; and Daniel Shea and his wife Roxanne of Wheeling, West Virginia. He is survived by 9 grandchildren, Eric Welch and his wife Gretchen of State College, Pennsylvania; Shawn Welch of Boston, Massachusetts; Danny Welch and his wife Kateland of Wichita, Kansas; Kyle Welch of Manhattan, Kansas; Brian Shea and his wife Autumn of Fairbanks, Alaska; Ian Shea of New York City; Meredith Shea of Athens, Ohio; John Baumchen of Lawrence, Kansas; and Molly Shea of Wheeling, West Virginia. He was excited about the upcoming birth of his first great-granddaughter, Amelia Shea, in March.
He is also survived by Judy's children, Molly Dunn and her husband Bill of Manhattan, Kansas, who lovingly referred to him as "Pa"; Michael Mills of Ackley, Iowa; Mark Mills and his wife Anna of 8 Mile, Alabama; and Joe Mills and his wife Kim of Lenexa, Kansas. Jim loved Judy's grandchildren, Michael Dunn and his wife Lacey of Emporia, Kansas; Julia Broadhurst and her husband Tim of Sanford, Florida; and Joel and Jordan Mills of Lenexa, Kansas. He loved holding and playing with Allison, Judy's great-granddaughter born in 2009. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews, and cousins.
Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m., Thursday, November 19, at the First Assembly of God Church, Manhattan, with Pastor Ed Walker officiating. Burial with full military honors will follow in the Louisville Cemetery, Louisville, Kansas. Family will receive friends from 5:00 until 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 18, at the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Ave., Manhattan, Kansas, 66502.
Memorial contributions may be made to Dave Roever's Wounded Soldier Fund or to PRN Hospice in Wamego, and may be left in the care of the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home.
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