Bucks great zest remembered

Dr A.B. Shields pictured left in June last year.  Also pictured from left to right is Sander Shields, Alan Shields, Paul Shields and Tom Shields.
Dr A.B. Shields pictured left in June last year. Also pictured from left to right is Sander Shields, Alan Shields, Paul Shields and Tom Shields.

The death has been announced in Portland, Oregon, of Dr Ambrose ‘Bucks’ Shields, whose parents originated from Ballydown, Banbridge. He died at his home in Portland surrounded by his family.

He was 99 years old and had been in excellent health until recently. He will be sadly missed by all his family in Oregon, USA and also by his many relatives in the Banbridge and Dromore area.

He is descended from the Shields family who lived in the Ballydown area in the early 1900s, and he was always very proud of his roots in County Down. It was through the local newspapers that the connection was made in the early 1960s.

Bucks and his wife Alice, and daughter Mary visited his relatives in Banbridge in the 1960s after the link had been found with the Shields family in Ballydown. He enjoyed the ‘craic’ at that time with his relatives and he always loved the Irish connection. His son Alan and wife Teri, daughter Mary and husband Spiro, visited their relatives in Banbridge in 2011 and spent time with the Shields, Derby, and Quail families. The families continued to keep close contact and in June 2012 Tom and Sander Shields visited Bucks and his family in Portland. They spent a week there and had a great time listening to all of the stories that Bucks was able to tell them at the age of 98.

Dr A B Shields was born in Wellsville, Kansas, in 1914, the seventh of the nine children of Byron and Maude Shields. He attended a one-room grammar school and studied at Kansas University. While at university he worked at many poorly paid jobs. He was so hard pressed for money that he only completed his studies in 1934 after the University Dean loaned him one dollar to complete payment of his fees. Had it not been for that small gift he would have dropped out of college.

Bucks went with his bride Alice to Portland, Oregon, and took up a post at St. Vincent Hospital. When World War Two broke out he ‘joined up’ and served with US forces in North Africa and Europe. He told great stories of his time in the army. His son Paul, also a doctor, later served in the US forces in Vietnam. Son Alan is retired from public administration in Oregon and daughter Mary is a school teacher in Washington D.C.

After returning from the war Bucks started a distinguished career as a surgeon lasting 46 years and he was acknowledged with many professional accolades in medicine in Portland and across the USA. Family, patients, colleagues, and friends remember Bucks for his loving and giving nature, his great zest for life, his humour and wise counsel, and his passion for medicine. He was a gifted storyteller with the Irish gift of having a tremendous memory for people and events. Even in his last years he could sit and tell stories for hours on end recounting past incidents and events. He loved the outdoors and went hunting, fishing, walking, and played 18 holes of golf until well into his nineties.

His wife Alice died five years ago. He is survived by son Paul and wife Aletha, son Alan and wife Teri Jo, and daughter Mary and husband Spiro. They were all present at his home in Portland when Bucks passed away last week. He is also survived by his six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

A Memorial Service for Ambrose ‘Bucks’ Shields will be held at a later date.