Aug. 22, 1921—Jan. 29, 2018
James A. Piana passed away Jan. 29, 2018, at Ft. Meade Hospice Center in Sturgis, SD. Jim was born Aug. 22, 1921, at his childhood home, 421 West Main in Newcastle, to Italian immigrants, Agostino and Irene Piana. Jim was raised in Newcastle attending public schools. Jim was a member of the 115th Calvary, Wyoming, and because of the national mobilization of all troops for World War II, he was unable to attend his high school graduation in 1939.
While at Ft. Lewis, Wash., his commanding officers realized his exceptional leadership potential and sent him to the 2nd Officers Candidate School. Jim graduated as a second lieutenant in Class #2, Ft Hood, Texas, in 1941, and was initially assigned as the regimental motor officer. Once in combat, Jim served many months behind enemy lines as a recon officer for units under the command of Generals Jim Gavin and George S. Patton. These units included: the 605 Tank Destroyer Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, 771 Tank Battalion, and for British troops under Field Marshall Montgomery.
After VE Day, Jim was separated from active service as a captain in May of 1946, at Camp Carson, Colo., where he was being treated for wounds suffered during the war.
Upon returning home, Jim was instrumental in owning and operating many businesses in Weston County, including the Western Bar in Upton, Culligan Soft Water Service, KASL Radio, Weston County Abstract & Title, and later A-1 Agency. In 1954, Jim married Joan Martin of Hot Springs, S.D. To that union, three children were born: Paul, Jean and Patti.
Jim was involved in many civic organizations over the years. He was a long-time supporter of the Boy Scouts of America, and was council president and received the BSA’s Silver Beaver Award for exceptional character and distinguished service after being a 30-year plus member of the executive board. Jim was a member of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Newcastle, and was the longest serving member of Knights of Columbus. He was also the longest serving member of Newcastle Lions, and a life member of the VFW and was the eldest volunteer fireman of the Newcastle Volunteer Fire Department. He was a past president of the Newcastle Area Chamber of Commerce, one of the founding members of the Newcastle Country Club and the Sunset Arena Prayer Meetings.
Jim is survived by his son, Paul (Deb) of Newcastle, and daughters Jean Piana of Riverton, Wyo., and Patti Smith (Mike) of Newcastle. Also surviving Jim are six grandchildren, Karn Piana of Santa Fe, N.M., James Piana of Golden, Colo., Carrie Farnsworth (Paul), Casey Smith, and Amanda Smith, all of Newcastle, and Lindsey Jacox (Donny) Eagle, Colo.; 10 great-grandchildren, Ashton Alarid, Caley Alarid, Canyon Farnsworth, Alexia Lopez, Ariel Lopez and Amora Villamil, and his newest great-grandchild, baby Patti Smith, all of Newcastle, and Mikey, Luke and Cody Jacox of Eagle.
He is preceded in death by his wife Joan, his parents, and his brother, Paul Piana.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, Feb. 17, at 10 a.m. at the Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Newcastle, with Father Tim Martinson officiating.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established to the VA Ft. Meade Hospice Center.