Judith R. Lyle Shields passed away surrounded by her family on December 12th, 2017 after a very brief but ferocious battle with cancer.
To anyone who knew her, this fight was not something that a woman as busy as she was had time for or so much relished, but her spirit never faltered.
She was born the eldest child of James R. and Marye Brown Lyle in Port Hueneme, CA. She attended Port Hueneme High School, graduating in 1964. She was an incredibly talented musician in piano, voice, and guitar and spent her whole life in the happiness that only music can bring. Her life as a musician started at the ripe age of seven years old when she was gifted her very own piano and began taking lessons. This exposure to the transcendence of music sparked a musical journey that would endure for the rest of her life.
While living in Ely, she shared her love of music with her students at Sacred Heart Catholic School as well as White Pine High school where she taught music and choir to countless students for many years. Never one to sit still or silently, she was a member of numerous barbershop quartets and the Sweet Adeline’s Barbershop Harmony Choir as well as community choirs throughout the area. One her most significant accomplishments was to Sacred Heart Church’s music program where she played and sang every Sunday at mass from 1976 to 2011 in addition to directing countless holiday programs and festivals. She could rift a guitar with the best of them, a sound that sadly has been silenced and will be sorely missed.
After moving full-time to Las Vegas in 2011, she began her most passionate pursuit as the musical director of the Sun City Songsters and founding member of the Aliante Treble Makers, where she gave her heart and talents until the end. From semi-annual concerts to spirit-lifting flash choirs, Judy relished the chance to bring music to sold-out crowds of the young and old alike through these musical endeavors.
To say that we want more time with her is selfish considering she lived 71 years – far longer than anyone in her family had until this point. But what she accomplished professionally, musically, artistically, and in her relationships only magnifies the concept of what an impact her passing has on us.
From her days spent toiling in that perfectly lit sewing room stitching the finest quilt for some friend’s new baby, or her boundless energy flying up and down a piano keyboard as she insidiously mastered some new song, to the crackle of the heaps of books she would read as her fingers gently turned the pages, it is hard to comprehend the silence we all now face. The gentle strum of the guitar is no more. The delicate sound of a Steinway’s pianissimo is no longer sustained. The slow, rhythmic beat of a sewing machine’s head has faded. What we are left with is the memories of this extraordinary woman.
Judy is survived by her three children, Kristen (Clinton) Crookshanks of Elizabeth, Colorado; Chad Shields of Las Vegas, Nevada; Jeremy (Karolyn) Shields of North Las Vegas, Nevada; her sister, Joan Ziebell of Portland, Oregon; her niece Jodie Ziebell of Portland, Oregon. She will also be missed dearly by her four granddaughters, Taryn and Calla Crookshanks along with Marua and Rose-Claire Shields.
The legacy she leaves behind is the flowers she watered and watched bloom. Whether it was a student whose musical genius was encouraged or a pupil whose discovery of music’s solace and the healing qualities of its pursuit endowed, Judy will be remembered for the blooms she created and the lives she touched.
One of her favorite passages was from the Rectorial Address that the creator of Peter Pan gave to St. Andrews University in 1922: “God gave us memories so that we could have roses in December.” To each of us whose life Judy touched, she gave roses in December.
A memorial service for Judy will be held Saturday, January 13th at 11 a.m. at the Sun City Aliante Community Center, 7390 N Aliante Pkwy, North Las Vegas, NV 89084.
Per her request, it won’t be a funeral so much as a celebration of life full of music, stories, and friendship. Please come and help celebrate this incredible woman’s life!