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James "Jim" Nance '45 September 21, 2022 3:51 PM updated: September 21, 2022 3:59 PM

James Winfield Nance

July 26, 1923 - September 17, 2022

James Winfield (“Jim”) Nance passed away peacefully on Saturday, September 17, 2022, at his residence at the Belmont in Dallas, Texas. He was 99 years old.

Jim was born in Dallas July 26, 1923, the son of Myrtle Lillian Winfield Nance and Sydney Johnson Nance of Thornton, Texas. He spent most of his early years in Victoria, Texas, and graduated from Patty Welder High School there in 1941. He started his higher education at Texas A&M but joined the Army Air Corps from the reserves in 1943, when WWII was well underway. On December 18, 1944, the P-47D “Thunderbolt” plane he piloted was shot down in the Battle of the Bulge, and Jim was captured behind enemy lines and imprisoned in Stalag Luft I in Barth, Germany for some four months. When the war ended, the prison camp was liberated by the men and women of the Russian army, and after being airlifted to France, he was sent home on the RMS Queen Elizabeth, which had been converted to transport allied troops. When he got back to Texas and his beloved mother and Aunt “Ava” (Laura Ellen Winfield), it was decided that he would return to Texas A&M University, where he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1948.

He married Lina Jane (“Lindy”) Bigelow of Victoria, Texas, on August 20, 1950. They had five children: Rebecca Laura Nance; Cynthia Lee Nance, James Wesley Nance, Carlton Ray Nance, and Jennifer Marie Nance, all of whom survive him. Lindy passed away in January of 2017; they had been married for 66 years.

As a freshly minted engineer, Jim was hired in 1948 by Magnolia Petroleum Company (now merged into the company we know as ExxonMobil), and he remained with that company until his retirement. During those years, the family lived in Dallas, Hackberry (Louisiana), Healdton (Oklahoma), Electra (Texas), Oklahoma City, and Norman. Jim served as a project engineer involved with North Sea offshore drilling platform design during the years 1976-1982, when they lived in Stavanger, Norway. After that, they moved to Denver, Colorado, where they lived for 8 years, retiring in 1984. He and Lindy returned to their beloved Texas in 1990 and moved from Austin to Dallas in 2008.

Jim loved to travel; with Lindy he visited many countries and at least two other continents over the course of their life together. While they lived in Austin, they were deeply involved in the care of Lindy’s elderly mother Saralyn Bigelow and her aunts Mary Buchanan and Rebecca Youngkin. It was a labor of love; serving these amazing women and enjoying their company brought great happiness to both Lindy and Jim.

As his son James Wesley said, Jim’s passing marks the end of an era. He was one of the last few surviving WW II veterans and was recognized in 2016 with a special flight to Washington DC (“Honor Flight DFW”), where his group received a hero’s welcome from flag-waving crowds. He worked for the same company his entire 36-year career. Wherever he went, he brought a little bit of Texas with him: the unmistakable accent, the bolo tie, the homespun humor, and the stories. He liked to talk about his brief stint as a cowboy on a big ranch, picking cotton in his overalls as a kid, riding a camel in Israel, and flying low and fast over the Iowa cornfields during his pilot training. In his last twenty years, he was finally able to talk about his time as a POW; in an interview in 2018 for a local television station, he proudly shared some of his war memories.

His life was long, and his passing was an easy one. He is survived by the five children noted above, and by his grandchildren Timothy Nance of New York City, Sarah Nance Brown of Wylie, Texas, Kristina Nicole Nance of Austin, Texas, and Lucinda Jolley of Oklahoma City. He also leaves behind four great grandchildren: Faith Nance of Round Top, Texas; Sophia Nance, also of Round Top; Amelia Nance of New York City; and Jaxon Brown of Wylie, Texas. Jim was very proud of his entire family.

Funeral service 2:00 p.m. Thursday, September 22, 2022 at Thiele-Cooper Funeral Home with Pastor Elvis Whaley officiating. Burial Yoakum Oak Grove Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be given to the Salvation Army.

Arrangements by Thiele-Cooper Funeral Home in Yoakum, Texas 361-293-5656.


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