James Shelby Newman has moved on upstream to find a new fishing hole. He passed away peacefully on March 18, 2020. Shelby was born in El Campo, Texas in 1930 to parents N.N. and Vashti Newman, and his family moved to Rockdale, Texas in 1943. He had an eventful and fun childhood with his family and friends, swimming in the San Gabriel River, milking cows, working the farm with his father, and raising parakeets with his mother.
Shelby entered Texas A&M in 1948, was in the ROTC, and graduated with a BS in Agronomy in 1952. He married his high school sweetheart, Peggy Albrecht, in June 1952. Shelby served 2 years after graduation as 2nd Lieutenant and Quartermaster in the Army at Ft. Hood, Texas where he was Property Disposal Officer.
In 1955, Shelby entered Graduate School at Texas A&M and received an MS in Plant Breeding. In 1958, he was appointed Assistant Irrigation Engineer with the Lubbock Agricultural Experiment Station. He went on to hold the titles of Agronomist, Irrigation Engineer, then Assistant Research Superintendent, where he worked on all aspects of the impact of irrigation on crops, including trickle irrigation research.
Shelby accepted a job as Director of the Research and Extension Center in Stephenville (now called AgriLife), where he finished his career after 37 years. He could entertain people for hours with stories about peaches, pecans, peanuts, field days, hunting, fishing, gardening, and falling off buildings. He received a number of certificates and plaques from TAMU Systems, The Soil and Crop Service Department, The Stephenville Chamber of Commerce, The TAMU Entomology Department, and The Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. He was a member of The American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science Society of America, Crop Science Society of America, and The American Peanut Research and Education Society. He authored more than 30 papers and articles, published in various journals relating to his research.
Shelby was preceded in death by his parents, brothers-in-law Bill Head, Ed Griffin, and Gilbert White.
Shelby is survived by his wife of 67 years, Peggy; sisters, Wynelle Head, Augusta Griffin, and Lavida White; children Zonelle Myers (Richard), Terri Guinn (David), Mark Newman (Nancy), Paula Pope (Kevin); grandchildren Toby Poore (Trisha), Kallie Newman, Maddie Lewis (Wes), Emma Guinn, Kelby Pope; great grandchildren Taylor and Tyler Poore; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Shelby was a man of many interests and talents, and lived his life by his motto, “I’m a New Man every day!”
A Celebration of his life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a church or charity of your choice.
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