James Edward Shanks, 95
James Edward Shanks, 95, of Omaha, Nebraska, died Dec. 17, 2020, at The Lighthouse at Lakeside Village in Omaha, Nebraska. Private services will be held at a later date.
He was born May 6, 1925, in Bakersfield, the surviving twin of Luther and Nellie James Shanks. He often recalled that his very lucky life began with his birth. He enjoyed a childhood of fishing and hunting adventures and had many stories to share. His father died when he was 6, and his mother owned and operated a general store in Bakersfield as a widowed single parent.
He graduated from West Plains High School and then enlisted as a Merchant Marine and served on oil tankers in World War II. While waiting for his first ship crew notice in New York City, he attended an afternoon movie matinee series and missed the call to board the ship. All his boot camp friends perished when that ship was sunk by a submarine. During the war, none of the ships he served on were ever attacked, and his nickname became Lucky Shanks among his crew mates.
When he returned from the war, he registered at Southwest Missouri State in Springfield, where, in a class, he met Elma Joyce Selvidge, the love of his life. They were married Nov. 27, 1947. During their 73 years together, Mr. Shanks dedicated his life to his family and his career.
He completed a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado and then moved his family to Omaha to begin a career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. With the Corps, he acquired training as a civil engineer as well. He retired from the Corps in 1985 as chief of operations for the Missouri River Division.
During retirement, Mr. Shanks and his wife enjoyed decades as very active members of the Nebraska group of Airstreamers, traveling with those friends throughout the country and creating treasured memories, until Mr. Shanks reached the age of 85.
His artistic abilities, mechanical talents and love of the outdoors enhanced his enjoyment of carpentry, collecting and repairing antiques, fishing and trailer camping. His family will most remember his unwavering devotion to his family and his dedication to the care of Mrs. Shanks.
He told his family recently that he did not wish for anyone to mourn his passing, as he had enjoyed a remarkable life that he could never have imagined.
He is survived by his wife, Joyce; daughters Julie Renier and husband Steve of Shasta Lake, California, and Sharon Connealy and husband Jerry of Whitman, Nebraska; grandchildren Nate Renier, Rachel Renier, Jed Connealy, Ben Connealy, Hannah Raudsepp and husband Erik, Gabriel Connealy and wife Becca; and eight great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings Mildred Lee and her husband Bill, Lyndal Lyndhurst and her husband James, and his infant twin, Charles.
Memorials may be made to the Food Bank for the Heartland in Omaha, or to Pioneer Memorial Rest Home in Mullen, Nebraska, where his wife Joyce will now reside.