Editor’s note: This article, edited and repurposed for A&E, was originally titled, “With Shields’ passing, community loses friend,” and was written by Walt Frank, staff writer at the Altoona Mirror.
John Shields, 78, of Altoona, Pennsylvania, died Monday, June 18th at UPMC Mercy hospital in Pittsburgh. He was well-known as the longtime owner/operator of Shields Trophy until his retirement.
Longtime friend Galen Bickel remembered a day in the 1980s when he needed trophies for the basketball camp that he was running. “He was still in the Knickerbocker,” Bickel said. “He was sitting there, watching a black-and-white TV with rabbit ears. It was like I was his first customer. He jumped up like someone special had come in.”
Don Witherspoon, Blair County NAACP president, was another longtime friend. “He was a wonderful guy,” Witherspoon said. “He did a lot for the Blair County NAACP. He made a lot of trophies and plaques for us and donated some of his work. We will never forget that. He was a good friend of mine, and he will be sorely missed.”
Steve Morrissey, owner of The Award Man, a Greenwood trophy shop, had only known Shields for about two years. “He came here one day and befriended us,” Morrissey said. “He was eager to help, quick to offer advice. He had no reason to be as nice to me as he was. He was genuine, he and his wife, Evelyn. He told us ways we could improve our business. He was a beautiful human being, a great mentor and friend.”
Kathy High, store manager at Shields Trophy and Awards, started working at the business after Shields sold it to Bill Kech.“I remember one day I was working at the store after Bill bought it,” High said. “I didn’t understand something, and he (Kech) said to call John. He was cutting his grass. He came in covered with grass, but he was so helpful.”
Shields and his wife were active members of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce. “John Shields was, first and foremost, a gentleman. He was that way as a business owner and as a chamber ambassador. You would need to look long and hard to find anyone as devoted to his family and his community as John,” President and CEO Joe Hurd said.
“He and his wife, Evelyn, were the 2018 recipients of the Chamber’s Joseph P. Rosenhamer Spirit Award for their selfless dedication to furthering the mission of our organization. I have never heard anyone say an unkind word about John or Evelyn. His passing leaves a void in so many areas. We lost a nice guy,” Hurd said.
Friends were received on Thursday, June 21st, at Stanley J. Krish Funeral Home, Altoona, where a funeral service was held the next day.