Jim Shields valued the importance of service and dedication to others early in his life: That generosity manifested itself visibly to the Fort Wayne community and especially Bishop Dwenger High School. Shields died on Aug. 1 at the age of 93, but leaves a legacy of exemplary standards and tangible gifts.
He was born in Buffalo, New York, on Aug. 13, 1923, and grew up in Fostoria, Ohio. Shields attended St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer on football and track scholarships before deploying to serve his country during World War II. In 1947, upon his return from serving as an officer in the Merchant Marine, Shields married his wife, Margaret.
He embarked on a career with Merrill Lynch for 28 years. He used that knowledge to invest in and develop numerous companies, including WaterFurnace Renewable Energy Inc. Shields once said, “Starting a business and being successful is the American way of life. I believe that if you have the money to invest, and you can employ others, you are doing something worthwhile.” For his commitment and accomplishments, he was inducted into the Greater Fort Wayne Business Hall of Fame in 2009.
Shields believed that with great power also came great responsibility. “God has been very good to me and my family, so I consider it my duty to give back to our community, local charities and schools. It is an honor to be able to give back to the community that has given so much to me.” That philosophy led him to serve on many community boards and charitable organizations in addition to Bishop Dwenger High School over the years, including the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, St. Jude Parish, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and the University of Saint Francis, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation Department, Matthew 25 Health and Dental Clinic, the Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana Inc., the board of trustees for the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum for 22 years, Saint Anne Home and Retirement Community, St. Joseph’s College and the Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society, among others.
Shields also received several accolades for his generosity, including the Msgr. J. William Lester Award in 2011. At the Light of Learning Luncheon that year, it was said that Jim and Margaret Shields spent a lifetime supporting Catholic education. They were tireless and generous fundraisers and their eldest son, Michael, was in the first graduating class from Bishop Dwenger High School.
Jim and Margaret laid the foundation for what is known today as “The Dwenger Family.” Their example of being active participants in their children’s education led the way for generations of other families to follow, and inspired and encouraged others to give of their time, talent and treasure.”
The couple were active in the original Men’s and Women’s Clubs at Bishop Dwenger, which helped to provide financial stability to the school during its early years. The first all-weather track in the state of Indiana, resurfacing of that track, an expansion of the school grounds, the new Fine Arts Wing, the success of the Golden Traditions Capital Campaign and an annual scholarship are all a result of their financial support of the high school, which prompted it to bestow on them the Bishop Joseph Dwenger Award for Philanthropy in 2007 — the only people who have received this award to date.
Shields Field was dedicated to honor the contributions of Jim and Margaret Shields in September 2016. The turf field enabled Bishop Dwenger to use the outdoor space for many activities: football, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, marching band and CYO sports.
All three of Jim and Margaret Shields’ children graduated from Bishop Dwenger: Mike in 1967, Tim in 1968 and Patty in 1974. They have been significantly involved in the Dwenger Family over the years, through the school board, the leadership of campaigns, Saints Alive! and coaching. Mike served as a freshman football coach for 21 years and all three have been inducted in the Bishop Dwenger Hall of Fame in athletics as Alumnus and Alumna of the Year. Seven Shields grandchildren have graduated from Bishop Dwenger as well: Katie Shields Roussel, 1996; Kelly Shields, 1999; Tim Shields, 2001; Jimmy Khorshid, 2006; Danny Khorshid, 2008; Billy Khorshid, 2010; and Molly Khorshid, 2013. Their first great-grandchild will be welcomed as a freshman Saint in 2020.
“It is extremely hard to encapsulate all that Mr. Shields has done for Bishop Dwenger High School,” remarked Katie Burns, director of Development and Alumni Relations. Jim and Margaret Shields created a lasting legacy to Bishop Dwenger High School through their generosity, support and commitment.
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