Francis Joseph Shields (Frank), 86, passed into eternal life on Monday, (November 20, 2017), after a short illness. Calling hours will be Sunday, (November 26) from Noon-2:00 p.m. at the Palmisano-Mull Funeral Home on 28 Genesee St. in Geneva, New York. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 12 Noon at St. Stephen’s Roman Catholic Church on Monday, (November 27). Interment will be at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Geneva, N.Y. Memorial contributions in his memory may be made to Our Lady of Peace Parish, 130
Exchange St., Geneva, NY 14456 or St. Lawrence University, 23 Romoda Dr., Canton, NY 13617.
Frank was born in Newark, N.J. on September 14, 1931, and spent his formative years in Johnstown, N.Y. He was the son of Francis Andrew and Kathryn Murphy Shields. He was a star athlete in football and track & field at Johnstown High graduating from JHS in 1949. He was inducted into the Johnstown High School Hall of Fame in 2008.
In September 1950 he matriculated at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. as a major in physical education. During his undergraduate days he was active in the Newman Club, the “L” Club, and worked in the office of public relations. It would be the beginning of a lifetime of devotion to the Scarlet and the Brown. St. Lawrence football coach, the late Paul Patten, was pleased to have Frank on his team as the Larries experienced unrivaled success from 1950-53, including an undefeated season in 1950. Frank was a
quarterback and kicker for the Larries. During the 1951 season he established a St. Lawrence record by kicking 34 consecutive extra points after touchdown. He was induced into the St. Lawrence University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994.
Upon graduation Frank was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and served on active duty from March 1955 to March 1957 as a special agent in the Counter Intelligence Corps. He married his college sweetheart, the late Patricia Ann Crowley, in 1955. His first job was teaching and coaching at Watertown High School. From Watertown he took an opportunity at the former Manlius-Pebble Hill School, teaching history and coaching. A son, Francis, was born to the couple in February of 1957. Patricia tragically died in Boston on June 7, 1960, while awaiting heart surgery. In 1961 he met and married Miriam Oot Hamlin, a widowed mother of two children, and spent the next 56 years as her devoted partner. The couple adopted each other’s children and went on to have three of their own.
Frank was a career educator and builder of community. His collegiate coaching career in football, lacrosse, and wrestling spanned 15 years, including stints at Lehigh University, the University of Massachusetts, St. Lawrence University and Hobart College. After his coaching career, he continued in education as a guidance counselor at Ogdensburg High School (N.Y.) and Victor Central Schools (N.Y.), residing in Geneva. As the Chief Lacrosse Referee for Western New York, earning recognition as “Man of the
Year” for his work from the Section V and later Section X of the NYSPHSAA. The ECAC awarded him a certificate of appreciation for his contributions to the sport in 1990.
In 1981 he accepted the position as Director of Alumni Relations at his alma mater, St. Lawrence. He is widely known for his work in building the St. Lawrence alumni community into one of the most loyal and engaged groups among small liberal arts institutions. He continued to build community, helping to start youth and high school lacrosse programs for boys and girls in Watertown, Canton, Brattleboro, Vt., and Glens Falls, N.Y.
He was also a builder and humble servant, providing all of his children and several local organizations with handyman skills, repairing, renovating, and giving of his time and expertise to make lives better. He was a servant of the holy Catholic Church in several ecumenical capacities and he religiously delivered Meals on Wheels to those in need.
He retired from St. Lawrence in 1993 and he and Mimi enjoyed their nine grandchildren, traveling frequently to Florida, Virginia, Connecticut, and Vermont. They visited Frank’s ancestral home in Errislannan, Ireland and visited England, celebrating a wonderful life. They moved to Queensbury, N.Y. in 2003 to be closer to family and then most recently back to Geneva last November. He is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Mimi; sister, Theresa; his sons Steve, Fran (Linda), and Jim (Betsy); daughters Sarah,
Anne (John), and Cathy (William); grandchildren Patricia, Abigail (Kyle), Francis, Bridget, Erin, Edward, Keelin, William, and Mairead. He was predeceased by his sister, Catherine; and his first wife, Patricia.