This posting inspired by the fan post Why Hawkeye Fandom is Rewarding, written by Wayms
James Shearer Jr was born in 1928 in the small town of Colfax, IA, just east of Des Moines. He was the youngest son of James Sr and Florence Shearer, and brother to Bob and Earnest Shearer.
James was a two sport athlete in High School and four year letterwinner in basketball and football. He had the greatest pleasure to see Nile Kinnick play in Iowa Stadium in 1939. He still had the Des Moines Register that pronounced Kinnick the Heisman winner all the way up to 2002, when it was accidentally thrown away when James had to move to South Carolina to live with one of his daughters. James was awarded a football scholarship to Texas Western College (now UTEP) in 1946. He left school only a few weeks into the semester because his father had a work accident causing him to become an invalid.
Once home, James worked for the railroad until 1950. After he left the railroad he enlisted into the Army where he was stationed in Brooklyn, NY and served as a military policeman. He participated in the base's intramural sports programs of basketball and volleyball. He was able to see Jackie Robinson play for the Dodger's one of his most favorite memories, he shared with his son years later. James had originally signed up for a 3 year tour in the Army but with the outbreak of the Korean War, President Truman gave all enlisted soldiers an extra 2 years of service. Fortunately, James didn't have to go overseas but stayed in Brooklyn serving as a sergeant in the Military Police.
After his service, James came back to Iowa to work for Ma Bell putting up phone lines all over the state. He also met his wife, Marlys Long who was attending nursing school in Marshalltown, IA. Just after 5 dates, James proposed to Marlys to be his wife. They were married in 1957 and a year later a daughter was born. James continued to work for Ma Bell, although through the years it had changed names (Northwestern Bell, US West, and finally Qwest) and he continued to be a fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes. He and Marlys would never attend an Iowa game in person after they got married, but every time the Hawks were on the radio, and eventually on T.V., there they both would be found in their Marshalltown home screaming their hearts out cheering the Hawks!
Fast forward to 1972, 5 more daughters were born to James and Marlys and in February of 1972 a son was born. The son of James and Marlys definitely grew up a "daddy's boy". The son would follow James around all over the place, and as he got older he followed James' footsteps in playing sports, and James encouraged his son to play as many sports as he wanted.
Fall Saturdays were filled with the son playing Marshalltown Football League (MFL) football in the morning and then racing home to watch the Hawks play on T.V. James would turn the T.V. sound off and listen to Jim Zabel call the game. Marlys would join in the cheering of the Hawks by yelling "TACKLE HIM" at the television as if the Iowa defense could hear her. James would tune in to Iowa Public Television to watch the Hawks as the were "wrastlin". James was a huge college wrestling fan. During the winter weeknights James would watch the Hawkeye cagers being led by Lute, George, and Tom. James' son was by his side through all of it, even during the coaches call-in show on WHO radio. Those are glorious memories that now sustain James' son.
In 1990, James' son graduated High School and went off to college in South Carolina and really never came back to live in Iowa, except for a brief 4 year stint in the mid '90s. However, every time the Hawks played football or basketball, James' son would call him and they would talk during halftime and after the game. They would share the joys or sorrows of the Hawks performance. They would talk about what the Hawks did great or what the Hawks should have done, either way, they just shared their love of the Hawks with each other. Actually the Hawks pretty much dominated every conversation James and his son had. No matter what the conversation was, it always turned toward the Hawks.
September 28, 2013, just two days before James' 85th birthday, James was laying in a bed located in a quiet little corner of upstate South Carolina. James' son was with him, holding his hand, wishing that they were anywhere else than in this hospice house. The Iowa game was about to start.
Just days before, the son got a phone call, "You better come quick, Dad won't be here much longer." The son raced the long drive to South Carolina from his home. James was still coherent when his son arrived and he asked, "Are we going to listen to the Hawks tomorrow? I hope they get to bring home the bacon." "Of course Dad." said his son with a huge smile.
With the internet radio playing through the computer speakers, James and his son listened to Dolph and Eddie call the Iowa - Minnesota game. James followed along and although he was losing his voice, due to no more liquid per the doctors orders because of asphyxiation, he was cheering for the Hawks. He smiled so sweetly when Powell took the bubble screen to the house. James said "I wish I could have seen it." When the game was over, James was pretty tuckered out and he wanted to sleep, but before he closed his eyes, he said, "How 'bout them Hawks."
It was the last game that James and his son shared together. James died on October 2, 2013, just two days after his 85th birthday. When James' body was being taken to his final resting place, next to his beloved wife, there were Iowa flags attached to the hearse. He would have loved it!
Now, it is bittersweet when the Hawks play. It doesn't even matter if they win or lose, his son still wants to call his Dad and talk about the Hawks. His son knows that when the Hawks are playing, James is smiling down and cheering on the Hawks.
I love you Dad and I miss you.