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James E. Jolly

Staff Writer
The Shawnee News-Star

James (Jim) Edward Jolly passed away Dec. 22, 2019, at the age of 93 at The Hospice of East Texas in Tyler, Texas. He was born in Mt. Vernon, Arkansas to Hugh Emory Jolly and Doris Edna (Terry) Jolly and was the third in a family of five boys.

Jim will be lovingly remembered by his children; son Steven T. (Terry) Jolly and wife Terri, Naples, Florida; son Tony Jolly and wife Linda, Plano, Texas; daughter Cindy Smoak and husband David, Tyler, Texas; and daughter Kim Primos and husband Jim, Plano, Texas. Jim also leaves behind his brother-in-law Bobby Wirth and wife Betty, Shawnee, Oklahoma; and his beloved companion and caregiver, Gail Lemaire, Bullard, Texas.

He is preceded in death by his wife of 62 years, Wanda Jolly, his parents Hugh and Doris Jolly, and his four brothers, Carroll Jolly, Hugh Emory (H.E.) Jolly, Bobby Gene Jolly, and Billy Ray Jolly.

Jim was one of the last surviving members of our nation’s “greatest generation”. He was a WWII veteran and served in the Navy from 1944-46. He attended the University of Arkansas where he played football and baseball and graduated with a degree in Engineering. He then started a professional baseball career that eventually led him to Shawnee, Oklahoma where he was the player/manager for the Shawnee Hawks, farm team of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Here he met his future wife, Wanda Jo Wirth, whom he married, and they had four children. After his baseball career ended, Jim began a long successful career with GTE Sylvania as an engineer and sales representative, and eventually retired after 40 years. Throughout this career he lived in many places including, Addison, Illinois; York, Pennsylvania; Burlington, Iowa; and Plano, Texas and befriended and touched the lives of many people nationwide with his outgoing and gregarious personality.

Sports played an integral role in all aspects of Jim’s life. He participated in many youth and high school sports, college baseball and football, and semi-pro fast pitch softball. He also liked to hunt and fish, he bowled in multiple leagues, and enjoyed bridge and other card games. He played golf into his 80’s and enjoyed a weekly golf league with other retired Sylvania colleagues in Plano, Texas. Watching his own children and grandchildren participate in sports and their other activities was a source of great pride and enjoyment.

As accomplished as he was as an athlete and as a successful businessman, he was most proud of the successes and accomplishments of his children and grandchildren. He will be greatly missed as a beloved Father, Papaw, Great-Papaw, Uncle and Companion. He is survived by his grandchildren; Jamie Lopez (Scott) Norman, Oklahoma; Dr. Aubrey Jolly Graham (Blair), Cary, North Carolina; Jason Primos, Carrollton, Texas; Lauren Jolly, Naples, Florida; Craig Smoak, Waco, Texas; Patrick Jolly (Mary Anne) Jacksonville, Florida; and Jennifer Smoak, Dallas, Texas. He is also survived by his seven great grandchildren, Shawn, Addison, Chase, Nicholas, Carter, Micah, and Caleb. He was a loving and influential presence in the lives of his numerous nieces, nephews, and great nieces and great nephews and he will be fondly remembered.

Visitation will be held from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 3, at Resthaven Memorial Park, 16006 S Rock Creek Rd, Shawnee. Service and burial will follow.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Hospice of East Texas, 4111 University Blvd., Tyler, Texas 75701.