November 22, 2017
To: The Laurentian Community
From: President William L. Fox
Re: In Memory: Frank Shields '54
I write to share the sad news that retired director of alumni relations Frank Shields '54 died Monday, November 20, after a brief illness.
When he was awarded the Alumni Citation in 1999, Frank described his relationship with St. Lawrence as "a 49-year love affair that has given me my most memorable and satisfying moments." Through those 49 years and beyond, he was a quarterback on the football team; a loyal and successful recruiter of students; the father of three alumni; and a dedicated and energetic director of alumni relations.
After earning his bachelor's degree in physical education, Frank served three years in the army as a first lieutenant in the counter-intelligence corps. He then embarked upon a career as a high school football and lacrosse coach and guidance counselor, counseling many young men and women toward St. Lawrence. Frank also coached football and lacrosse at the college level, at Lehigh, the University of Massachusetts and Hobart, as well as a year at St. Lawrence in the late 1960s.
He returned to the University as director of alumni relations in 1981, serving until his retirement in 1993. His efforts in that position are legendary, with the Alumni Citation noting, "we have tried hard but have failed to find one alumnus or alumna of this University whom you don't know." As director, Frank doubled the number of alumni clubs; established the Multicultural Alumni Advisory Committee; created the first Alumni Leadership Weekend; and helped arrange the first-ever satellite broadcasts of Saints' athletic events.
I was a young alumnus starting out in Washington, D.C. when Frank first returned to St. Lawrence to begin a new career in alumni relations. His enthusiasm was electric, actually high voltage. I remember thinking then, but also over the years of a long friendship, that he seemed like the happiest man about his dream-like opportunity and University role that I may ever meet. St. Lawrence was his Oz, a place over the rainbow, a place where "blue birds fly" and where Frank believed the stars came out just for St. Lawrence. He was a Laurentian true-heart, admired and loved by alumni all over the continent.
His daughter, Cathy Shields O'Hara '84, said "My father is St. Lawrence personified. His devotion to his alma mater is legendary, evidenced through his many years of service as a student, coach, Alumni Director and volunteer. He never missed an opportunity to talk about St. Lawrence, to visit an alumnus, to watch a game, or to promote the University to high schoolers. I've always been impressed by his uncanny ability to find a St. Lawrence alum in almost any state or country he visits. He exemplified to me, my siblings and so many others, the reality of the St. Lawrence community that exists from the first moment on campus and continues throughout your life."
Frank was also active in the Canton community, establishing boys' and girls' lacrosse at local high schools and as a member of St. Mary's Church Parish Council. In addition to being inducted into the University's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993, he was recognized with the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Award of Appreciation in 1993 and received awards for his contributions to high school lacrosse.
His survivors include his beloved wife, Mimi, six children and several grandchildren. Calling hours will be held at the Palmisano-Mull Funeral Home, 28 Genesee St., in Geneva, N.Y. Sunday, November 26, from noon to 2 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Stephen's Church in Geneva on Monday, November 27, at noon. The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to St. Lawrence or to Our Lady of Peace Parish in Geneva.