NLJ Staff


June 29, 1943–Nov. 5, 2020

James Melvin Shields, 77, passed away Nov. 5, 2020, at Monument Health Custer Hospital after a short but brave battle with COVID-19 pneumonia. 

Jim was born at his Grandma Portwood’s house, June 29, 1943, in Newcastle, Wyo., to O.J. and Sylvia Mae (Portwood) Shields. He was the eighth of 10 children. When Jim was 4 years old, the family moved to Osage, Wyo., and later, Fiddler Creek. Jim attended elementary school in Osage and junior high and high school in Upton, Wyo., graduating with the class of 1961.

After graduation, Jim moved to Longview, Wash., where he worked at Longview Fiber Company as a painter.

On Dec. 27, 1970, he married the love of his life, Carolyn Rich, in Newcastle. The moment he laid eyes on her the first time, he told his best friend that he was going to marry her.This December would have been their 50th wedding anniversary. 

After beginning their life together in Washington, Jim and Carolyn moved back home to Newcastle in 1974. Jim’s pride and joy were their children, Brenda, Barrie, Brandon and Brittany, and their grandsons, Grayson and Gavin — also known as the “BeeGeez.”

Jim worked for Rich Bros. in the oil field, then later, went to work driving coal truck for Jacob’s Ranch Mine. After retiring from the mine, he went to work at Weston County Senior Services. Jim loved driving the seniors and other members of the community around to various places, as well as delivering meals. 

His family said, “Aside from his family, Jim’s passion was music. From an early age with his siblings at home around the piano, through school in choir and in band, and until the very end, music was a part of him. Jim didn’t play music by reading the notes, he would hear the music and play the song. He always made sure to let people know his ability to play music was a gift from God. Jim shared his gift of music in many ways throughout the community, including most recently gifting copies of his CDs to many.

Jim loved the community and being able to help in so many ways. He loved painting signs for the baseball fields and he was our family handyman. He would help wherever needed, even over the phone. Jim never met a stranger and had the ability to make friends wherever he went.”

Jim was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Chuck; and his three sisters, Betty, Esther and Naomi.

Jim is survived by his wife, Carolyn, Newcastle; daughters, Brenda, Barrie and Brittany; son, Brandon (Alyssa); grandsons, Grayson and Gavin; and granddogs Jovie and Juno, all of Rapid City, S.D.; brother, John (Bertie), Casper, Wyo.; sisters, Ruthie Norris of Payson, Ariz., Lois Mirich of Lingle, Wyo., Martha Rich of Newcastle, and Sarah (John) Wolf of Phoenix, Ariz.; sisters-in-law, Evelyn Shields of Arlington, Texas, Ann Rich of Douglas, Wyo., Marilyn Wright of Newcastle, and Brenda (Al) Costello of Newcastle; brothers-in-law, Terry (Barrett) Rich; Dick (Bonnie) Rich, all of Newcastle; and numerous nieces and nephews, along with a host of friends.

A memorial has been established to Weston County Senior Services for the purchase of a player piano so that Jim’s music will live on.

Due to the COVID pandemic, a Celebration of Life service will be held at a later date.


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