Obituary: James Shields

James Shields, an influential Texas Baptist religion professor at Howard Payne University and Hardin-Simmons University, died June 3 in Abilene. He was 86.

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James L. Shields, a Texas Baptist educator who taught religion more than three decades at Howard Payne University and Hardin-Simmons University, died June 3 in Abilene. He was 86.  He was born Nov. 10, 1933, in Byers to T.J. “Johnse” Shields and Mildred Gainus Shields. In 1942, the family moved to Phillips, where he graduated from high school in 1951, one year after he surrendered to the ministry and began preaching. As a student at what was then Wayland Baptist College, he met Corrine Cook of Amarillo. They were married in the summer of 1953, and both graduated from Wayland in 1955. The couple moved to Fort Worth, where he began his seminary studies and Corrine taught in the public schools. He earned his Bachelor of Divinity and Doctor of Theology degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. While attending seminary, he served as pastor of Direct Baptist Church in Lamar County and pastor of Floyd Baptist Church in Hunt County. He went to work for the student department of the Baptist General Convention of Texas in 1963 and was assigned to Howard Payne College as director of religious activities. In 1966, he was invited to join the religion faculty at Howard Payne. He accepted the position and continued to serve there until 1984. After resigning from Howard Payne, he accepted a faculty position with Hardin-Simmons and taught there until he retired in 1999. Howard Payne University awarded him the Medal of Service in 1990. He was selected as Cullen Professor of the Year at Hardin-Simmons in 1993 and was recognized as senior professor of theology in 1995. He was elected Faculty Member of the Year by the Hardin-Simmons faculty and staff in 1999. His real joy interacting with students and celebrating their ministry as they followed God’s direction in their lives. Throughout his teaching career and 14 years after retirement, he served churches 63 times as interim pastor, including serving in that role multiple times for some congregations. He also served churches as a supply preacher and Bible study leader, and he led revivals, retreats, conferences and other special services. He was preceded in death by his brother, Bob Shields. He is survived by his wife Corrine; their daughter Cindy DeJulio and her husband Michael; son Jerry Shields and his wife Kay of Colorado City; three grandsons; one granddaughter; and sister Lona Howard of Brownwood. Memorial services will be held at 10 a.m. on June 8 at First Baptist Church in Abilene.


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