Obituary Details

Phillip Lee James

(04/11/1953 - 08/09/2008)
Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 08/13/2008

Phillip L. James

Phillip L. James, age 55, of Sheridan, Wyo. died Saturday, Aug. 9, 2008 in a motorcycle accident. Memorial Service were held Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008, in the Early Auditorium, Sheridan Junior High School with the Rev. Glenn Murray officiating.

Phil was born April 11, 1953 in Lusk, Wyo. to Lee & Mary (Hales) James. Phil graduated from Niobrara County High School in 1971 where he was a state champion wrestler in his weight class. He was a government trapper, experienced welder in the oil fields, a senior construction manager in Iraq and presently a general contractor owning his own business, CRC, Inc.

He was a member of the Elks Lodge and a life member of the NRA. Phil enjoyed snowmobiling, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, motorcycling and spending time with his boys, and sharing his wisdom with the many kids that were part of his life.

He was preceded in death by his father, one sister, and a son. Phil is survived by his wife and friend, Jaclyn James; his mother Mary James; two sons, Joel Edward James, and Timothy Lee James; their mom, Freya Parrett; two daughters, Amy Jo James, and fiancé Lloyd, and Aimee Wagner, and husband, Troy; one brother, David James; one sister, Kim Brost, and husband, Breck; one grandson, Ryan Wagner; and many nieces and nephews.

Memorials may benefit the American Cancer Society, 907 N. Poplar St., Suite 185, Casper, WY 82001. Arrangements are with Champion Ferries Funeral Home.

Received from Martin McFarlane
August 20, 2008
Author: J. Michael Sharman
Publication Date: August 19, 2008
Title: The Suddenness of Death and the Immediacy of Life

The choir director in our church, Clareece Eaton, had for years been the main care-provider for her husband, Harold, who is frail and in his nineties. At church on August 3rd, our pastor mentioned that Clareece had called and said she wouldn't be leading worship that day because she wasn't feeling well. Nothing serious, she said, she just thought she had gotten a touch of the flu.

She died in the early hours of the next morning.

Even though she was in her eighties, she was active, vibrant and healthy. We never thought she would go before Harold. Suddenly, though, she was dead.

The day of her funeral, we heard that my 94 year-old mother-in-law had been admitted to a hospital in Oklahoma City and was not expected to recover.

My wife, Nancy, and I began looking at flights and waiting for the expected call.

Last Saturday, August 9th, 2008, Nancy and I were at a friend's farm checking on some hay for the winter when I got a call on my cell phone from her middle brother, Glenn. Glenn never calls my phone direct, he always calls Nancy, and so I knew it was not good news. His trembling voice confirmed it.

"Is Nancy with you?" he asked.


"Phil's been killed." Phil James was the husband of Nancy's sister, Jackie.

As the confusion of facts began to sort themselves into a painful reality, we learned that Phil had been riding his motorcycle down a mountain road in Big Horn County, Wyoming after checking on one of his work sites. The road had a straight patch with one of those gorgeous long-range Rocky Mountain views. Phil apparently looked too long off to his side and did not see the curve and the concrete abutment in time.

In an instant, Phil became "Phillip L. James, April 11, 1953 - August 9, 2008."

My mother-in-law has been released from the hospital and is now recovering in a different care facility, getting a few days of physical therapy.

About a month ago, a nurse from my own mother's care facility called to say that my mother, who has had Alzheimer's for many years, is in her final decline. The nurse suggested that it was time for Hospice to start coming on a regular basis.

With each ring of the phone, my four siblings and I wonder if it will be "the call" about mom. But as Phil's death has shown me, death is sudden and not always in the sequence that we expect.

All we can do about the suddenness of death is to grab hold of the immediacy of life. We've all heard that old phrase, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." It might be the last one, too.

When the dual realities of the suddenness of death and the immediacy of life really hit us we realize we have no time to waste before mending the relationships which have been broken by our petty pride.

Imagine that you will take your last breath today. What fractures do you need to heal in your relationship with God?

If your friends and family will be attending your funeral on Saturday, what do you need to do today?

In your wounded relationships with God and with man, you may need to say five things to each of them to prepare for a death that could come today or to heal for a life that may have fifty more years to go:

1. I am sorry.
2. I was wrong.
3. What can I do to make it right?
4. I'll not do it again.
5. Will you forgive me?

A young cowboy came to me after Phil's funeral, crying, saying that he had done Phil and Phil's sons wrong in a lot of ways, and the last discussion he ever had with Phil was a pretty furious argument. I told him it was too late to try and make it right with Phil, but that he would die a little bit every day until he did whatever it took to make it right with Phil's sons.

Don't delay fixing the fractured relationships in your life. You just never know when the day it is too late has arrived.

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