James Reed Lovell (“Jim”), 96, of Dumas, TX, and recently of Amarillo, TX died on the Fourth of July, 2023.
The family will receive friends from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm, Friday, July 14, 2023, at Boxwell Brothers Funeral Home, 2800 Paramount Blvd., Amarillo, TX.
A graveside burial service will be on Saturday, July 15, 2023, at 9:00 am at Dumas Cemetery, 1401 S. Twitchell Ave, Dumas, TX. The public is invited. A memorial service will be held immediately following at 10:00 am in the First Presbyterian Church of Dumas, 700 East 1st Street, with Pastor Barry Loving officiating. Arrangements are by Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF JIM LOVELL 1927 – 2023
James Reed (“Jim”) Lovell lived 96 years. Then on July 4, 2023, he breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. His mind was sharp and his spirit good to the end. His long life was filled with family, service, education, productivity, leadership, willpower, history, good times and hard times, resilience, and unrelenting optimism. He was a well-respected lawyer, church and civic leader, friend, son, brother, cousin, husband, and a much beloved and honored father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
He was a fine example to all who ever knew him. In the words of one, “Anyone who has ever known Jim is better for it.”
Jim was preceded in death by his parents and grandparents. At the time of his passing, he was survived by his brother, all eight of his children, and all his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, a wonderful blessing very important to him. However, later that same day, Jim’s son Jeff died suddenly and unexpectedly. Some folks are just meant to travel together.
James Reed Lovell descended from many generations of poor farmers who followed a mule and a plow slowly westward through the Middle South, eventually into post-Civil War East Texas. His paternal and maternal grandparents later migrated with children and mules from East Texas to sink their plows into Donley County sand in the early twentieth century.
James Reed Lovell was the first-born son of the first-born daughter of William Andrew Jackson Poovey and Johnnie Mae Blackburn Poovey, who brought up eight children. Jim often remarked that “Papa Poovey had eight kids, and I wanted eight kids, too!” And so it came to be. “Will” was more than just Papa Poovey’s name, it was a defining characteristic, undeniably passed down to his eldest daughter, Reta Eudora Poovey Lovell, and from her to her son, James Reed Lovell.
Jim’s father was Benjamin Reed Lovell, a big, quiet man who learned mechanical service and repair at the infancy of the automobile. It was a wise choice that served his family well in the challenging years to come. Ben became widely admired as the strongest man most folks had ever known, yet timid, kind, and patient. “Daddy Ben” was very gentle, fun, and beloved by all children. This was the defining characteristic passed down from his father, on to Jim, and from Jim to his son Jeff. Jim’s beloved paternal grandfather, Howell Walker Lovell, “Gran,” was also kind and patient, and was young Jim Lovell’s best ol’ buddy. “Daddy Ben” and “Gran” were highly honored role models for Jim.
Jim was born at home in Ashtola, TX, on April 8, 1927, with the assistance of the local mid-wife, his grandmother “Mama Poovey.” His brother, Joe Thomas Lovell, came in the same way on October 1, 1929. Those boys were raised by the Lovells, the Pooveys, and the tiny community of Ashtola. They worked and played at the Lovells’ service station, grist mill, country store and post office (all rolled into one). James Reed and Joe Tom were formed in the Great Depression and honed in the Dust Bowl by parents determined that their boys would receive a higher education and go on to great things. And so it came to be.
James Reed graduated, president of his class, from Clarendon High School in 1944. World War II had come and was in its full fury. Jim wanted to join the U.S Marine Corp after high school. The Marines, after all, were getting all the glory in the newspapers. But his mother had a different perspective and a dominating will. Jim’s youth required his parents to sign off on his enlistment. Reta refused to agree to the Marines, and did not want him drafted into “the walking Army,” so she compromised to let James Reed enlist in the U.S. Navy. He attended Clarendon Junior College while awaiting his call to duty. Jim swore an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and was inducted into the Navy in the spring of 1945, shortly after V-E Day. He trained in San Diego for service in the Pacific Theater.
While Reta took comfort that she had prevented James Reed from the dangerous island warfare of the Marines, he had crafted a work-around that he kept secret from her for her entire life — he had volunteered as a “Navy Corpsman,” the equivalent of a Medic, who would land with the Marines on the beaches. But J. Robert Oppenheimer’s work in New Mexico soon alleviated the Navy’s need for new Corpsmen. Jim completed basic training in August 1945, just after the Japanese surrender.
He was shipped to The Philippines to serve as Shore Patrol, a duty that led to the career which defined the rest of his life. As a guard, Jim accompanied the wayward U.S. soldiers and sailors to Court Martial, where he witnessed the work of the military lawyers. Impressed, he determined to make himself a lawyer. And so it came to be.
Honorably discharged from the Navy in August 1946, he came back to Donley County and Clarendon Junior College, and then on to Southern Methodist University. He, like so many others who served this Nation in World War II, was able to obtain a valuable post-war education at an excellent private university thanks to the GI Bill – the meaningful “thanks” of a grateful nation. Such an education would have been otherwise unavailable to the son of an auto mechanic from Ashtola. He and those others educated under the GI Bill, together with the many other American servicemen of the “Greatest Generation,“ went on to rebuild this Nation and the war-ravaged world.
Jim earned a diploma from CJC in 1947, and from SMU his Bachelor of Business Administration in 1949 and his Bachelor of Laws in 1951. He was the first in his family, on both sides, to receive a college education. He set the standard that many would later follow.
Jim graduated SMU with the determination that all his children would have a college education and he would pay for it. On that determination he never wavered. He proudly paid his children’s tuition to several Texas universities every year, but one, from 1970 to 1996.
As a teenager working on a wheat harvest crew, Jim had become acquainted with farmers and businessmen in Dumas, Texas. He had made up his mind that he had a future on the North Plains of Texas. And so it came to be. In 1951, after graduation from law school, Jim quickly passed the bar exam, married his high school sweetheart, Louva Hunt, became licensed to practice law, and went directly to Dumas to start what became a large family and very long and successful law practice.
While Jim had set his goal for eight children, Louva said she preferred six, and they apparently compromised at seven: Lynnita (1952), John (1954), Jimmy (1957), Joe (1959), Jeff (1962), Laura (1965), and Leslie (1967). But his will be done, and they surprised everyone with number eight, Jesse, in 1973.
Jim and Louva insisted on more than mere school education for their children. They summer road-tripped through all but two of the fifty states (Hawaii and Connecticut), including the famous camping trip to and around Alaska and back, in a Chrysler station wagon with seven children pulling a pop-up camper. That required of Jim inhuman stamina, resilience, and patience.
His children were all expected to behave honorably and politely, treat others respectfully, and to work hard at whatever they undertook. Manners mattered! All his children were required to learn how to function as adults by doing chores at home and later working for pay as youths. Jim’s expectations of his children were matched by his own modeled behavior. He had expectations but encouraged and supported their independence in finding and following their own paths.
Jim’s civic service and leadership was long, broad, and important. Too long, in fact, to fully list here. He grew Dumas along with his family and law practice. He served Dumas and other North Plains communities as city attorney. He was city attorney for Dumas for over twenty-five years! He was a bank director in Dumas and Sunray. A proud lifelong Democrat, he served as the Chairman of the Moore County Democratic Party for many years and was active in many political campaigns over many election seasons. He was a delegate and witness to the historic Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. (Look that one up.) He participated and led the Dumas Chamber of Commerce (1971 “Man of the Year”), the Moore County Development Corporation, and other economic development organizations for many years. He spearheaded the efforts to bring American Beef to the Schroeter Industrial Park at Cactus in the early 1970’s. Jim loved and was very proud of Dumas and Moore County.
Jim was dedicated not only to educating his children, but everyone else’s too! He served multiple terms on the Dumas Independent School District Board of Trustees. In 1975, Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe appointed Jim to the West Texas State University Board of Regents. He served as Chairman of that Board of Regents in 1978.
Ben and Reta raised Jim as a Methodist. Louva had been raised a Baptist. They compromised and joined The First Presbyterian Church of Dumas. Jim’s faith was strong and steadfast, but he believed its important principles were best shared not by words, but by example and action. Jim loved his church –– and manifested that love through 70 years of membership, support, service, and leadership as an elder. It was very important to him that his final resting place be in Dumas and that his last service be in this Church.
Jim dedicated a big part of his long life and career to his clients and the legal profession. In 1951, he took another oath:
“I, James Reed Lovell, do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitutions of the United States and of this State; that I will demean myself in the practice of law; that I will discharge my duties to my clients to the best of my ability; and, that I will conduct myself with integrity and civility in dealing and communicating the court and all parties. So help me God.”
He did not just mouth those words. He lived them. He actively, effectively, zealously, and productively practiced law for 69 years! He was steadfast to the rule of law – in principle and in practice. He brought up many young lawyers in Dumas over those years. Jim formed a partnership with Hugh T. Lyle in 1953 which lasted until Hugh’s death in 1976. He honored his partner by maintaining “Lovell & Lyle” as his firm’s name until 2016, when Jim moved to Amarillo to be closer to family and medical care, and became “Of Counsel” to his sons’ law firm.
During Jim’s long span of legal practice, he served in numerous local, state, and national attorney associations. He served as a director of the Texas State Bar for many years, receiving multiple awards for his service and contributions, including the President’s Award in 1979 and another award in 1994 for his contribution to the founding and continued operation of Texas Lawyers Insurance Exchange, known as TLIE.
Through his service in the State Bar, Jim became a member and eventually chairman of the State Bar of Texas Insurance Trust (1973-80). His service on that trust in the late 1970’s led Jim to spearhead an effort to find a solution to the serious lack of predictably available and reasonably priced legal malpractice insurance for Texas lawyers. Jim and his group of unpaid volunteers eventually put together what became TLIE. TLIE is a not-for-profit company owned by its members – the lawyers and law firms who purchase the policies. In other words, the TLIE policyholders effectively insure each other. Before it could become legally authorized to issue insurance policies, TLIE had to raise the substantial initial capital from its soon-to-be policyholders. Still short of the minimum capital required to begin, someone would have to put up $165,000 with no collateral and no assurance it could ever be paid back. That someone was Jim Lovell, who signed a personal bank loan and took a risk for TLIE and the lawyers of Texas. It worked. Jim’s law firm was issued Policy #1. “The grass was always green, right where he was,” remarked a fellow director of TLIE. TLIE has successfully insured its member-lawyers, through good times and bad, for 44 years and counting. Jim was its unpaid Founder, initial President, and Chairman of the Board from 1979 until 2009. Jim willed it, and it came to be.
Jim retired from the practice law in 2020 only because his eyes had failed him. He did not merely stop practicing; he returned his law license because he believed himself honorably and ethically bound to do so when he could no longer see adequately to competently represent clients. Returning that license to practice law was perhaps the single hardest decision he ever made. Nobody made him do it. He did what he felt duty-bound to do.
Jim’s unbounded optimism led him into more than a decade of very successful farm and ranch land investing, developing, and trading during the 1970’s. But he saw it all crumble during the ag land deflation and crushing interest rate environment of the early 1980’s. By 1985, he was left with nothing but huge debts, a failed marriage, an old house in Dumas, three children still at home, and, by golly, a law license and a few loyal clients and friends. Jim did not run and hide. He went to work! He worked long and he worked hard. He carried himself with honor and dignity. He represented his clients diligently and zealously. He raised and educated the younger children. His courage, tenacity, and resilience set an example for his family and all who worked with and against him. Jim willed it, and he overcame.
Jim eventually got Jesse graduated from high school and so felt eligible to consider dating and marriage. He met Betty King of Irving through a friend and dancing class. He must have been mighty charming and persuasive because he was not a good dancer! Jim and Betty married on December 28, 1991. They traveled extensively, built and enjoyed a cabin on the Cimarron River in Ute Park, NM, and generally enjoyed one another for over 22 years. Betty passed away on March 15, 2014.
Jim was survived for a few hours by all eight of his children, three step-daughters, and their families:
Jeffrey R. Lovell of Dumas, TX born to Jim and Louva in 1962, died the evening of July 4, 2023, in the presence of his family and fireworks celebrating this country’s independence. Jeff is survived by his wife Dianne, and their son, Johnny Lovell of Lumberton, TX, his wife Bridget and their children Ashton, Brooklyn, Raygan, Jameson, and another on the way; and daughter Whitney Chairez of Dumas, her husband Junior and their daughters Docia, Adi, and Darcy. Like Papa Jim, Daddy Ben, and Gran before him, Jeff (“Puppy” to his grandchildren) was a wonderful grandfather and will be sorely missed.
Nita Dyslin of Amarillo, and her sons Derrick Dyslin of Houston, TX, his wife Lindsay and their children Brayden and Berkeley; and Chad Dyslin of Amarillo, TX and his wife Danyell.
John H. Lovell of Amarillo, TX his wife Regina, and their daughters Esther Beagles of Canyon, her husband Talon and their children Celia and Caleb; Rachel Lovell of Bay Village, OH, her husband John Lawrence and their daughters Olivia and Samantha; Lindy Waldrip of Canyon, TX and her son CJ; and son David Lovell of Ralls, TX and his wife Mylea.
Jim Lovell and his spouse Bill Stoner of Tourves, France.
Joe L. Lovell of Amarillo, TX his wife Trish, and their sons Heath Lovell of Denver, CO his wife Kylie, and their daughters Emmeline and Eleanor; and Ben Lovell of Albuquerque, NM.
Laura Taylor of Amarillo, TX and her daughters Bristen Rodriguez of Amarillo, TX her husband Andrew and their daughters Caylor and Dayton; Nicole Blessen of Amarillo, TX her husband Colton and their daughters Finleigh and Reagan; and Tiffany Vandergriff of Houston, TX her husband Landry and son Davey.
Leslie Hawkins of McGregor, TX, her husband Randall, and children Jace Bennett of Amarillo, TX, his wife Jenna and daughter Brooklyn; Jancee Bennett of Austin; Jayton Bennett of Canyon, TX, his wife Paige and son Baker; Matthew Hawkins of Dallas, TX, his wife Sierra and daughter Maeve; Andrew Hawkins of Dallas, TX and his wife Taylor; and Michael Hawkins of San Antonio, TX.
Jesse Lovell of Claude, TX, his wife Amy and their children Mattie Kate Lovell of St. George, Utah, and Hunter Lovell of Claude, TX.
Carol Colunga of Irving, her husband Ricardo, and daughter Adriana Vincent and her husband, Randall.
Linda Wolever of Irving, her husband Kevin; their daughter Ari Wolever of North Richland Hills, TX,, and her daughter Lily; and sons Jiles Wolever of Irving, TX and his wife Mandy, and their daughter Taya; and Lakin Wolever of Norman, OK.
Jenny Zeller of Irving, TX, her husband Bill, and their daughter Emma Zeller of Irving, TX; and son Evan Zeller and his wife Grace of Richland Hills, TX.
Jim is also survived by his brother, Joe T. Lovell of Claude, TX and his wife Shirley; and their daughters Leah Gregory and husband Mike of Rociada, NM, and their sons Grant Gregory, his wife Katie and daughters Clare and Sloan of Trementia, NM, Sam Gregory and his wife Shelby of Dalhart, TX and Gabe Gregory of Rociada, NM; and Sheila Jenkins and husband Kevin of New Braunfels, TX, son Ben Jenkins stationed in Pordenone, Italy, and daughter Brooke Jenkins of Nacogdoches, TX.
The family suggests donations to the life and legacy of Jim Lovell be made generously to a charity that brings strength, good counsel, optimism, and hope to those who seek it, just as Jim did for all those whose lives he touched.
Use this link to view the service: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXm8f4HMO6o