James C. Fields (US Army, Retired) died peacefully March 21, 2023, at the age of 84. His life was devoted to service, as a military officer, and a husband, father, and grandfather. He was known to all for his steadfast devotion to his country, community, and family, for his analytical mind, for his disciplined way of life, and for his understated generosity of spirit.
He was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. After an unsuccessful blind date in college, he later re-met and married Patricia Crawford. They were inseparable for 52 years until her death in 2017, and in the last years he was her constant and selfless caregiver. They loved, raised, and educated two children, Karen Nelson and Brian Fields, and were doting grandparents to Kaleigh and Parker Nelson. They chose to live their retirement years in Knoxville, in part to be close to the Smokies. They hiked in the mountains for twenty years, usually followed by lunch in Gatlinburg where they had also spent their honeymoon in 1963.
Modest and (usually) softspoken, he let his accomplishments speak for themselves. He was a man of few words, with a wry sense of humor, and did not suffer fools gladly. He enjoyed planning and taking trips with his family across the country, and to Europe. He loved to go out to dinner, and took great pleasure in treating his family to memorable meals; in Knoxville he was for years a regular at Connors and Chesapeake. He kept himself in good shape, in later years by walking avidly, and was known to all in his neighborhood taking long, brisk strolls, often twice daily.
Early in his youth he found his calling in the discipline and camaraderie of military life, starting in high school at Georgia Military Academy. He remained in uniform for nearly four decades. After brief enlisted service in the US Army reserves, he spent his undergraduate years in the Corps of Cadets at the Citadel in Charleston SC. He graduated in the class of 1960 as a Chemistry major and a cadet officer in D Company. The next day he was commissioned as an Army officer, where he spent a thirty year career, rising to the rank of full Colonel. He joined the Ordnance Corps, where he made best use of this technical background, analytical mind, and leadership abilities. In his career he commanded troops, tested new weapons systems, and led research and development. Along the way he earned a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Delaware. He was stationed around the United States and overseas, including a tour in Vietnam from 1969-1970, where he was stationed in Da Nang. For his wartime service he was awarded the Bronze Star valor, one of many decorations he received. After retiring from the Army in 1989, he worked for several years as an executive in the defense industry.
He participated in community service throughout his life, as a leader in the Boy Scouts and the United Way. For many years was a volunteer and then leader in the Knoxville and Tennessee AARP Foundation TaxAide, providing free tax help all around Knox County.
A strategic thinker in all things, he made his life an example of leadership, independence, and a focus on the things he valued the most. He is deeply missed and will be forever loved.
The Funeral will take place on Monday March 27 at 12:00 noon at Rose Funeral and Cremation -Mann; the service will also be streamed live on their Facebook page. Family and friends will then gather at East Tennessee State Veterans’ Cemetery, John Sevier for the 2:00 pm Interment Service with military honors. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation be made to the Citadel Foundation, or to the Friends of the Smokies. Online condolences may be expressed at rosefuneraltn.com.