James G. "Jimmy" Cowles, 68, Suamico, passed away at home surrounded by family on January 4, 2021, following a six month journey with glioblastoma. The son of the late Robert L. and Margaret (Lindstrom) Cowles Jr. was born on July 15, 1952 in Green Bay.
Jim was the middle of the three Cowles boys, and attended grade schools in Allouez. He graduated high school from Wayland Academy, followed by a Bachelor's Degree at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point. In college, he was a founding member of the Mutated Members Trivia Team for the annual 54-hour, World's Largest Trivia Contest. The first years of participation were held at Jim's apartment, and their team continues the tradition to compete each year in Stevens Point.
Post-graduation, he traveled the country looking for Shelby Mustang parts, during these years he met some of his oldest and dearest friends, who became family. In 1977 he founded the Northwoods Shelby Club in Northeast Wisconsin with several of his Shelby friends. In 1978 he founded Shelby Parts & Restoration. After forty three years of operating his business, he was known worldwide for his skills in restoring cars and ability to acquire hard to get, original parts.
On July 13, 1995, Jim welcomed his daughter Emily LaViolette Cowles. Not many fathers take their daughter to school in a Cobra LeMans race car. He raised her to have an affinity for Door County sunsets, dogs, beautiful cars, and the Green Bay Packers.
In 1996, Jim became one of the founders of the Shelby American Collection Museum in Boulder, CO. He was instrumental in building the museum's memorabilia collection, and continuously supported the museum in procurement and fundraising capacities. Today, you can still 'visit' the historic Cobra Jim owned, model CSX2138.
On September 15, 2001, he married the love of his life, Sharon Buenger. They spent nineteen years of building wonderful memories, a home, and a life together. Their favorite place to be was on the beach with friends in Marco Island, FL or at the cottage in Door County, WI.
In 2016, Jim was appointed to be a judge for the Shelby American Collection, and SAAC Councours Chairman, travelling the country to inspect and judge with his decades-long authority on all things Shelby. He also followed his father's footsteps with a love for Road America in Elkhart Lake. He will continue to be a legend and a giant in the Cobra and Shelby world, as he was a mentor to many around the nation who will carry his legacy forward.
Jim had a wicked sense of humor and he could command a room with his wit. Despite his gentle demeanor and kind heart, many friend's kids endearingly called him, 'Mean Jim'. He was also a dedicated Jeopardy fan, when you had a trivia question, he was your guy. For sport, he enjoyed barefoot golfing and fishing at the Alpine resort - he even had his captains license to earn money taking people on a charter in his teens. Jim was dedicated to carrying on his dad and grandfather's legacy of wearing 'loud' clothing to events, no pants were too obnoxious!
With all of this, his main priority in life was taking care of 'his girls', which he did better than anyone could.
He is survived by his wife, Sharon; daughter, Emily; step-children, Jonathan and Katherine Laes; brothers, Sen. Robert L. Cowles and David F. (Lisa) Cowles; nieces, nephews, other extended members.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Margaret; good friend John McCoy Jr.
Family and friends may visit at Green Bay Community Church, 600 Cardinal Lane, Green Bay, beginning at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, January 15, 2021. Social distancing, masks and temperature checks will be required. Please use the chapel entrance. A service will take place at 6:00 p.m. A virtual live stream will be available at https://livestream.com/gbcommunitychurch/cowles
The family would like to thank the Nurse Navigator Program at the Vince Lombardi Cancer Clinic, specifically Lindley Mauer, as well as the doctors and nurses involved in his care, including: hospice caretaker, Holly Runquist, Hospice Nurse, Jessica Anthes; Hospice Physical Therapist, Sheona Carne; Team Assistant, Tina Kinjerski; and CNA, Mary Escota-Rolefon. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation at P.O. Box 5010, Elm Grove, WI 53122 or www.lombardifoundation.org
Ryan Funeral Home, De Pere is assisting the Cowles family. Please visit www.ryanfh.com
to extend online condolences.