James W. (Jay) Fields
Nov. 21, 1918 - March 3, 2014
Jay was born in Bunkie, Louisiana on November 21, 1918 to Jimmie L. Fields and Mary Eola Jennings Fields. He graduated valedictorian from Sabine Pass High School in 1936. Following service in the Air Force as a navigator during World War II
, he married Mary Jane Bernhardt on December 28, 1946. They moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana where Jay completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce at LSU in 1949. Following graduation, they made their home in Texas where they lived most of their married life, spending 41 years in the town of McAllen. Jay worked as a General Agent for American Security Life Insurance, earning his CLU in 1968. He also served a tenure as president of the General Agents and Managers Association. He was a well-known community leader, serving on many boards, including the Salvation Army, the United Fund, the McAllen Housing Services, Inc. and the McAllen Industrial Board. Active in the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, he served as President in 1973. He also presided as President of the Foreign Trade Zone and was one of the founders of McAllen Performing Arts. As a member of St. John's Episcopal Church, he was active in the vestry, serving twice as Senior Warden. He served as President of the McAllen Lions Club, a membership he held from 1952 until his death. For his dedication, he received the Melvin Jones Award, the Lion's highest honor. For his years of community service, he was honored in 1977 as McAllen's Man of the Year. In 1998, he and Jane moved to Oregon, dividing their time between Salem and Black Butte. He was a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Salem and a volunteer at the Habitat for Humanity Store in Sisters. A voracious reader, he also continued his hobbies of hunting and fishing. Local fishing trips with his grandsons over the years and fishing trips to Alaska with his Oregon fishing buddies and his son-in-law provided the highlights of his time in the Pacific Northwest. Known for the twinkle in his eye, his ready smile and encouragement to all, he was a loving husband, father, grandfather, uncle and friend.
Jay is survived by his daughter, Mary Grace West, his son-in-law, David, his three grandsons, Colin and his wife, Karen, Evan and his wife, Allie and Brian and his partner, Antonio. He was preceded in death by his wife of 63 years, Mary Jane, and his son, Michael. Jay died peacefully on Monday, March 3, 2014 at the age of 95 with his daughter at his side. The family extends their heartfelt appreciation to his caretakers of the past few years: Lynnette Olesen, the staff at Willson House and Willamette Valley Hospice.
A private family memorial service will be held at Black Butte Ranch. Memorial remembrances may be made to Texas Lions Camp, P. O. Box 290247, Kerrville, TX 78029-0247, Habitat for Humanity, Sisters, OR or Willamette Valley Hospice, Salem, OR.
Assisting the family Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.