A World War II veteran, a small town mayor, a dedicated community volunteer, a loving parent and grandparent, a die-hard Aggie. There are many ways to describe Earle Shields ’41, but one word sums it all up: servant. That’s why it’s no surprise that he has chosen to impact Mays Business School with a recent gift of $500,000, which will be matched with funds from Lowry Mays ’57. The resulting $1 million gift will be used to create the Earle A. Shields, Jr. ’41 Chair in Investment Advising in the Department of Finance.
Shields hopes that the faculty member that will one day fill the chair will inspire students to follow in Shields’ own footsteps: He has worked in the field of finance for 61 years in various positions. After a fulfilling career twice as long as many men experience, he was looking for a way to give back to the profession as well as his alma mater. As he wasn’t aware of a program at any university that prepares students specifically for the field of financial investing, he chose to endow the chair at Mays. “I loved the business so much that I thought this would fill a niche that needed to be filled,” he says.
Beyond achieving professional success, Shields has also been a dedicated community volunteer. “I believe it’s important for people to do volunteer work,” he says. “It takes a lot of good volunteers to run a community.”
In Westover Hills, the Fort Worth suburb where he and his wife Ruby make their home, he’s served as mayor for 15 years. His other volunteer positions are too numerous to mention, ranging from education to health care, serving as president, board member, or simply a servant. For his efforts, he received the Hercules Award for outstanding volunteerism in Tarrant County.
At A&M, he’s been on a handful of advisory boards. He’s also endowed a dozen scholarships across campus, including a recent one at Mays. He’s a servant in his church, where he is a trustee over the priests’ pension funds and serves on several other committees. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. “I seem to have spent a life time doing volunteer work,” he says. And at 89 years old, he says he has no intention of slowing down. “If I stop, I’ll be six feet under.”
Shields graduated with a degree in engineering and a U.S. Army Reserve commission in the field artillery. He spent four years serving during World War II, including a stint as a gunnery instructor. He served in the European theater with Patton’s Third Army as a major and S3 of a field artillery battalion, and was awarded the Bronze Star medal. He became the battalion commander after combat and was responsible for transitioning troops home. He remained in the U.S. Army Reserves for many years and was promoted to lieutenant colonel.
After the war, Shields launched his career in business when he participated in a six-month training program at Merrill Lynch’s office in New York. When they asked him where he’d like to go after the program, his answer was confident: “Just send me back to Texas.” After 11 years in the Dallas office as a financial consultant, he was transferred to Fort Worth to oversee the office there and retired 26 years later as a senior resident vice president.
Soon after retiring, he went back to work, this time for NASDAQ as a corporate consultant. He also joined the Gearhart Industries board of directors as chairman of the Special Litigation Committee. Shields continues to be an industry arbitrator for FINRA Dispute Resolution, which handles securities litigation. He has also worked as an expert witness in this forum. Shields is currently an independent director of the LKCM Fund Group which consists of nine mutual funds.
More than his professional success and leadership roles, Shields is proud of his family: his wife, Ruby; their four children, three daughters-in-law, and six grandchildrenâ€”all of whom live in Texas.
Shields’ attachment to A&M continues to grow, as one of his sons and daughters-in-law are former students and a grandson is a current student. Another grandson recently left A&M to become a U.S. Army Ranger, serving a tour in Afghanistan.
Shields says he was delighted to hear of the matching funds available through the Mays gift, as it would double the impact of his own contribution. “Obviously we want to find a top person to fill the position,” he says, noting that will be easier to do thanks to the size of the endowment. No matter whom they find to fill the chair, the individual will have some big shoes to fill to wear the name of Earle Shields Professor.