James Gene Shockley of Victor, Montana, died peacefully at home on September 14, 2020. Jimmy Gene was born in 1944 at Luke Field Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona, to Gene and Helen Shockley. Jim was predeceased by his parents and grandparents. Jim is survived by his spouse, Marilee Shockley, and his brothers, Mark (Sherry) Shockley, and Steve (Nancy) Shockley of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and other relatives.
Jim was born a traveling man, moving with his parents from Montana to Texas, and California to Virginia. Jim graduated from Jeb Stuart High School in 1962. He attended the University of Oklahoma for one semester. He then transferred to the University of Montana, since Darby, the home of his paternal grandparents Clyde and Margaret Shockley, was always considered “home.”
In 1963, Jim enlisted in the USMC and was a radioman with 3rd Recon. He continued his traveling ways, ordered to exotic duty stations such as Okinawa, the Philippines, and Vietnam. On July 12, 1965, he was severely wounded in Vietnam by enemy machine gun fire. His friend, Sergeant Major Freddie Murray, rescued him from the ambush site, saving Jim’s life.
Upon completion of his enlistment, Jim returned to the University of Montana and obtained a BA in History. While at the university, he met his bride, Marilee, who became his wife of 51 years.
In 1969, Jim went to Officers Candidate School and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the USMC. While in the Marines, he returned to the University of Montana to attend law school. He obtained his Juris Doctorate degree in 1976, and then practiced as a trial lawyer in the Marine Corps for 12 years.
Jim retired from the Marine Corps in February 1988, after achieving the rank of Major. He took the next year off, driving all over the United States to visit friends and relatives, as well as floating the entire length of the Yukon River by himself.
In 1989, Jim and Marilee moved to Victor, Montana, opening their Law and CPA firms, with the support of their longtime friend John Hickman who was their secretary. Jim had a solo practice, including public defending, real estate law, estates, and other services.
In 1999, Jim became a Montana Legislator and served for six years in the House and eight years in the Senate. Jim specialized in legal services and penitentiaries. Jim was a bit of a maverick, often voting his conscience. Jim was helpful to both sides of the aisle. Jim was proud of his service to the State of Montana.
Jim was involved in almost everything including several Marine Corps Veterans’ Organizations, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Masonic Lodge #43, the Lions Club, and the Republican Party.
Jim’s achievements are too long to list, but included receiving the Purple Heart, the Navy Achievement Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Pat Williams Intellectual Freedom Award, and the Distinguished Services Award from the State of Montana Supreme Court.
Jim was an avid outdoorsman, hunter, and fisherman, especially duck hunting with his Chesapeake “Chesty,” and backpacking with his mules “IRS,” “Patty,” and “Guido.” He had many adventures and tales to tell with his friends Art and Mike, exploring the Montana wilderness.
A memorial service is being planned for June 2021 to allow family and friends to attend in person. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Salvation Army or any Veterans’ organization.
“And, may you have fair winds and a following sea.”
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at the website: www.brothersmortuary.com.