Lockheed retiree worked in missions Lockheed vet loved church work most

Fred Shields.

Sometimes he'd make a dry run just to make sure he knew how to get to the residence of the person in need of a ride. Then, on Sunday morning, he'd show up. Like clockwork.

"We have always picked up people to get them to church," said Sibyl Langston Shields, his wife of 65 years. "It was just his life."

The Walker County native worked for 30 years in sheet metal fabrication at Lockheed. After he retired in 1985, he devoted time to mission work. He and his wife volunteered for the Sojourners, a Texas-based mission group, in the 1990s.

They traveled the United States in a motor home, helping shore up small churches, baptize new believers or host Bible studies with others.

"Sometimes it was physical labor. Sometimes it was evangelistic," she said. "He lived for the Lord. People would ask him what's the most important thing in life and he would say, 'Let God be the center of everything you do.' That is the story of our lives."

Fred D. Shields, 90, of Smyrna died Sunday from complications of myelodysplastia syndromes —- a group of diseases that affect bone marrow and blood —- at Tranquility Hospice in Austell. The funeral is 10:30 a.m. today at the Jonquil chapel of Castellaw Funeral Home, which is in charge of arrangements.

Mr. Shields served in the South Pacific Theater during World War II. When he returned to Georgia, he bought a farm in Trion, in Chattooga County. He and his wife wanted to run a dairy farm, Mrs. Shields said, but lacked the financial means to make it work.

In 1951, the couple moved to Atlanta, where Mr. Shields was hired at Lockheed. The couple had planned to work a few years, then return to their farm, but it didn't pan out.

"We took roots in Cobb County," his wife said. "My sister and her husband bought the farm. They still have it."

Even though Mr. Shields, who also was an avid bowler, partook in special assignments with Sojourners, mission work was part of his everyday life, said a son, Sam Shields of Powder Springs.

"I've seen him pull over and help somebody change a tire on the side of the road. He'd hear about someone who needed a place to stay and open up his home to people. It might be a week or two, but occasionally it got into scenarios where they lived with us a few years."

Additional survivors include another son, Allen Shields of San Antonio; two daughters, Nancy Martin of Sugar Hill and Debbie Clifford of Nashville; 11 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

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