Doyle E. ‘‘Des’’ Shields

Doyle E. ”Des” Shields passed away peacefully on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at the age of 86, with the loving witness of his wife, family and friends at his bedside.

He was born July 24, 1925, in Guys Mills, Pa., the seventh child of Alfred and Ethel Shields.

His early years were spent in Findley Lake and Clymer, N.Y., where he loved attending class reunions over the years. His memories of those years are of walking to school in heavy snow. The snow got deeper and the walks longer with the telling. At Taylor University in Indiana. he remembers working his way through school shoveling coal on campus. After achieving degrees from Taylor and Alfred University in New York, he went on, much later, to earn his doctorate at Claremont School of Theology in 1980.

Answering the call to the ministry, he served as a Methodist minister in small churches throughout Western New York and Pennsylvania. After frequent moves, his family, including son, Calvin and daughter, Robbin, accepted the call to serve a small church in Olympia, Wash. Later, he went on to work for the state of Washington in the field of alcohol and drug rehabilitation. Ed Kenealy, the head of the department, became a lifelong, treasured friend. During his tenure, he served as chaplain at American Lake, the area Veterans Hospital.

A final move brought him to Ventura, Calif., where he worked for the county of Ventura in the field of alcohol and drugs on special appointment from the Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church. He left a strong presence in the alcoholism field. It was his passion, along with developing Agape therapy, which he defined as unconditional love or treating others as they need it, not whether they deserve it. He wrote books, conducted group sessions, had a private practice – nonprofit since he never charged.

He married Ann Malmin in November of 1971, and acquired two stepchildren, teenagers: David and Judith Malmin. With the merger of Calvin and Robbin from a previous marriage, family statistics, at this count include four children, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, spreading out from northern California and New York. Children include: son, Calvin; daughter, Robbin Shields; stepson, David and his wife, Barbara Malmin, stepdaughter, Judith Weber and her husband, Joe; Grandchildren in California are Suzanne Jaeger and her husband, Ryan, Andy Malmin, Matthew Weber, Sam Weber, Elle Koleckar and her husband, Kevin. Grandchildren in New York include Gabriel Shields and fiance, Michele, Brittany Dahlgren and husband, Jeremy, Natalie Shields and fiance, Andrew Hazelton. Great-grandchildren in California are Lucas and Nathan Jaeger, Grace and Shepherd Koleckar. In New York, Dylan Enders, Michele Hazelton, Isis Dahlgren, Dimitri Wayman, and Odin Shields. Adding countless nieces and nephews back east would fill a school auditorium. His parents and all six of his siblings have preceded him in death. Brothers Dick, Merle and Ethber John Shields and infant baby, Clair and sisters Hildred Miller and Winnie Maguire are surely having a heavenly reunion.

Highlights of a life well-lived include every other year treks in a Dodge Van across the country to Ripley, N.Y., with mandatory stops at McDonald’s along the way. And always a meal at niece Trudy Babcock’s diner, a local gathering place in Ripley, where the cemetery down the road awaits the journey’s end for Doyle E. Shields, better known as Des.

A highlight of his life was the memorial service held in Soy Belguium for his brother, Cpl. John (Ethber) Shields, killed in the Battle of the Bulge in December of 1944, reported missing in action and four years later uncovered in a farmer’s field.

He cherished his Irish heritage. A favorite memory is of kissing the Blarney Stone on a trip to Ireland in 1977. It is fitting that his memorial service is being held on St Patrick’s Day weekend.

We will all miss his humor, kindness and generosity to all who crossed his path. His wife of 41 years, Ann, declares him to be the sweetest man she ever knew. His cats Mitzi and Murphy would agree. He called them his best buddies.

We are thankful for the loving care accorded Des in his final months at Mound Guest Home by Rick Pittman, owner and his angelic staff – all his favorites Des used to say. Certainly Hospice of Ventura brought comfort with their unique brand of loving care. Thanks, Josie.

A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, March 16, 2013, at 11 a.m. at First United Methodist of Ventura, 1338 E. Santa Clara St., with the Rev. Charles Simmons and the Rev. James Hoover officiating.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Ted Mayer Funeral Home, Ventura.

The “Doyle E Shields Memorial Page” has been created on Facebook for those who would like to visit it.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice of Ventura.