Eugene Shea was born December 28, 1925 in Franklin County in eastern Kansas, the eldest of four children of Elmer and Faye Shea (Lantis). He was educated in Kansas schools, graduating from Williamsburg High School in the spring of 1942. He was transferred by the Union Pacific Railroad from Kansas City to Rawlins in April of 1945, as a locomotive firearm for the seventh district. He later worked for the Stanolind Pipeline Co., now known as Amoco Pipeline Co. at various locations in southern Wyoming, northeastern Colorado, and Salt Lake City from December 1946 until July 1959. During this same period of time, he served in the 763rd Battalion during the Korean War.
He was captain of the guards at the Wyoming State Penitentiary for several years prior to teaching in the vocational school system of the prison for another nine years. During this time, he married Dixie Caldwell and acquired a family of three small daughters. In June of 1979, he left state employment to engage in the securities brokerage business as a representative of B. J. Leonard & Co. in the Ferris Hotel building in downtown Rawlins.
During the many years he lived in Rawlins, he owned, built and operated numerous residential properties. After semi-retiring he closed his brokerage office in Rawlins, and in November, 1989, moved to Hanna, Wyoming where he continued to operate the business part time from an office in his home for one more year while speculating in the remolding and selling of a group of foreclosed houses in Hanna, purchased from H.U.D. and V.A.
Eugene was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Nancy Ellen Davis of Hobart Indiana in 1982, his two younger brothers, Lloyd Shea of Augusta, Georgia, and his youngest brother, John Shea of Winfield, Kansas. He is survived by his wife of 52 years Dixie Shea of Hanna, Wyoming, three daughters by marriage, Deborah Caldwell of Aurora, Colorado, Kinta Blumenthal of Saratoga, Wyoming, and Cheryl Smart of Laramie, Wyoming, three granddaughters, five grandsons, seven great grandsons and four great granddaughters as well as numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
Eugene was a life member of the Elks Lodge 609 and years ago served two terms as vice president of the Carbon County Peace Officers Association. From childhood, he was an ardent fisherman and has fished many of the waters of the West as well as many other places, especially Mexico. For the past thirty years, he has added boating to his fishing. His old Hydra-Swift was a common sight on Seminole Reservoir. He knew every cove, sunken island, rock pile and good fishing spot on the lake. Eugene was an amature astronomy fan and spent many hours under the night skies with a small telescope and a pair of binoculars, marveling at the enormousness, the complexity, and the variety of the universe. He was a compulsive reader, reading shelves of mostly non-fiction books and magazines. From involvement in the industry, he was a close observer of the financial markets and world affairs. He also wrote and published several volumes of cowboy poetry and short stories, competed in numerous cowboy poetry competitions around the west and was known by many as one of Carbon County’s premier cowboy poets.
Eugene was not a political type of person, perhaps lacking social graces to a fault. But, he was loved by his wife and the three children he yearned to call his own. He was liked by most small children and dogs, and will be missed by all those he touched during his 90 years on this earth.
Eugene was also not a religious person. He viewed life, aging, and death as natural occurrences, as natural as the changing of the seasons of the year as the earth rotates. A new generation replacing the old even as a new crop replaces last year’s crop grown old and gone to seed. And the new crop looks the same, is the same as last year’s crop, ten years ago crop, even one hundred years ago, grown in the same field, under the same sun and rain. We are last year’s crop grown ripe, while next year’s crop waits to take our place, to have our same hopes, same faults, make similar mistakes and await their turn as our replacement. On the day of our “Papa Gene’s” passing, after a long dry summer, an inch of rain fell on the Upper North Platte Valley preceded by a sky filled with lightning and thunder. A most appropriate send-off for the man we will all miss so dearly.
Graveside services for Papa Gene will be held at the Hanna Cemetery Thursday September 8, at 11:00 AM with a gathering of friends at the cemetery prior to the service at 10:30 AM.