A cellist played softly as the sanctuary at Littleton United Methodist Church filled on June 10 with people Jimmy Shamas had reached during a long, active life — people wanting to wish him a fond farewell. Professional colleagues knew him as “Mr. Pipeline,” while the community knew him for his interest in his family, Rotary activities, volunteerism, theater support, philanthropy, Boy Scouts and more.
Shamas died on June 5 at age 82, leaving his wife of 61 years, Annawyn; daughters Laura Shamas (Jon Klein), Ellen Shamas-Brandt (George Brandt) and son Jimmy Ellis Shamas Jr. (Annette Shamas), a sister, brother, uncle, five grandchildren, nephews and nieces.
Near the pulpit was a most fitting quotation: “Engineering — the art of organizing and directing men and controlling forces and materials of nature for the benefit of the human race” (Henry G. Stott, 1901). Shamas worked in the oil industry starting in 1956 and held a variety of engineering and executive positions.
Shamas’ son, Jimmy Ellis Shamas Jr., delivered the eulogy (“We all have stories…”), telling of his father’s early years, learning English in school (the family spoke Lebanese at home). A small town childhood allowed freedom to explore and a curious mind sometimes caused problems. (He took a motorcycle apart to see how it worked.) He was involved in many sports, choirs, musicals, a barbershop quartet … And he learned compassion — his father Ellis helped friends in the Great Depression. And his mother emphasized the value of hard work — his parents ran a dry goods store, where he helped.
Shamas earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Oklahoma State University, where he met Annawyn when both were DJs at the college radio station. They married in 1955 and he began a distinguished career in the oil industry after graduation, also earning a Juris Doctor in 1969 after night school study. His career took him through many positions with a variety of companies and he served as president of the Association of Oil Pipe Lines. A move to Colorado was included and the family remained in Littleton after retirement.
Longtime colleague and friend Charles Hoffman recalled a Will Rogers photo and quotation in Jimmy Shamas’ office: “I never met a man I didn’t like.” That rang true for his friend, he said, as he traced career moves through many years.
Daughter Ellen Shamas-Brandt played a favorite “musical memory” on the piano for her father, “the kindest, smartest, most supportive man I know,” who, with Annawyn, helped raise her daughters.
The family suggests that contributions in Shamas’ name may be made to the Boy Scouts of America or Rotary International.