Richard John Shields passed away surrounded by family on February 20th, 2017. As a lifelong mortician, he could not have designed a more perfect death for himself than having slipped and fallen chasing around his grandkids after having just shared an ice cream with them.
He was born the youngest of three children in Palo Alto, California on July 10th, 1944 to Gerald V. Shields and Elizabeth Waugh Thomson Shields. He attended Sequoia High School having graduating in 1962. From the time of his youth, he always had a fascination with funeral service cars and decided to put that curiosity to work when he enrolled at the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science. Upon graduating in June of 1964, he began working as an embalmer with Crippin and Flynn Funeral home in Redwood City, CA. This job would chart the course of his career for the next 48 years.
In 1966 he made the move south to work as an embalmer and funeral director at Reardon’s Funeral home in Ventura, CA. It was here that he met and married his wife of 48 years, Judith Lyle. In 1976, with two kids one cat and one bunny in tow, they set off into the unknown to the small town of Ely, NV where they purchased and managed Wilson-Bates Mortuary (later Mountain Vista Chapel), having acquired it from his mentor Barkley Oliver of Crippin and Flynn. For more than 35 years, Rick was the sole provider of funeral services in East-Central Nevada working tirelessly on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Rick devoted much of his time to volunteer organizations such as the Sacred Heart Knights of Columbus, Past President of Kiwanis Club, Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, the Ely Volunteer Fire Department, the Great Basin Service Club, and NFDA & The Zoo. His retirement was spent in Sun City Aliante where he enjoyed the company of his friends and family and perfectly did as little as possible. When not spending time with his family or working, Rick could be found at the bowling alley or watching his favorite softball teams, “The Ballbearers” and Mountain Vista.
Rick is survived by his wife Judy of North Las Vegas, Nevada. In addition, he is survived by his daughter Kristen (Clinton) Crookshanks of Elizabeth, Colorado; Chad Shields of Las Vegas, Nevada; Jeremy (Karolyn) Shields of North Las Vegas, Nevada; three nephews: Kevin (Cheryl) Giacomini of Atlanta, Georgia; John (Lori) Giacomini of Long Beach, California; and Timothy (Jenni) Giacomini of Palo Alto, California. He will also be missed dearly by his four granddaughters, Taryn and Calla Crookshanks along with Maura and Rose-Claire Shields who were all just a few of his favorite things.
Anyone that knew him understood what a kind and compassionate person he was. However, he was also a passionate person. This passion extended from things like his beloved 49ers to the extraordinary measures he took to ensure everyone felt special on their birthdays with his rain man-like ability to remember any and everyone’s special day. He was also known for his excess. Why buy one package of 20 rolls of packing tape, when clearly 5 packages were better? 15 different types of chocolates and two-day old stale donuts were an ever-present vice that tempted friend and stranger alike, washed down with black coffee that made the toes curl in their shoes. Ties tied seven inches too short was his trademark gift to the fashion world, while making grave-digging a spectator sport in a suit and moon-boots.
But perhaps his most enduring legacy will be that of his incredible moral courage and character. He was universally understood as a kind, gentle, and compassionate person. Countless grieving families, over his long and distinguished career, benefited from the remarkable charm of his character and the warm embrace of the blanket of compassion with which he enveloped them. Complete strangers felt the sincerity of the man who knew little of the cost of investing in friendships, but rather sought to unconditionally be a part of the human experience. He will be missed not only for the love he radiated to friend, stranger, and family alike, but also for his generous spirit and selfless dedication to the things near and dear to him. In all aspects of his life, he was a man of excess, but in his case, excessive love. While his life has ended, his persistent legacy of kindness, service, and compassion will live on in the hearts of all that who were fortunate enough to know him.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Genesis Home Health.
The Recitation of the Rosary is scheduled for Friday, February 24, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. at Mountain Vista Chapel.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be Saturday, February 25, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Burial to follow at the Ely City Cemetery.