James Shields has died. He was 86.

Joseph McClain

A J Turner

Jose Rivas

Wallace Roark

Bryce Sandlin

Clyde Majors

Robert Campbell

Nat Tracy

James Shields

These men served on the faculty of the Institute of Christianity at Howard Payne University. Overworked, underpaid, loving, kind, decent helpful These men made a difference in the lives of a lot of preachers and even more churches.

I say they are great men all.

James Shields died this week in Abilene. Many of us called him “The Silver Fox,” which was his favorite sobriquet for himself, as well. He pounded on us in Systematic Theology, told us we got a B in his classes because he did not issue many A’s and showed us how sleek a middle aged fellow could look in bib overalls.

Shields produced kidney stones at a much higher rate than A students. Mark Scott and I put him in the front of seat of my 68 Impala one day when he was suddenly beset by a kidney stone attack. I drove him to the Brownwood Hospital, for which he eventually forgave me. We wheeled him to a private room where a nurse threw a gown at us and said, “Strip him down all the way and put this gown on him.”

True story.

Naked Shields

My life changed that day.

I gave him about a B-

That evening we brought him a copy of Late Great Planet Earth to make him pee more freely. We also gave him a healing prayer cloth to put on the offended area.

Perhaps this is why I got a B, not an A.

Shields played basketball. He was good for a vertically challenged white guy. I once told him, “Shields, you jump like an arthritic hippopotamus.

Come to think of it, how did I get a B, not a C?

Shields would tell so many disappointed students, “Look at what it says. A B is very good. An A is excellent. Do you think you did excellent work, Brother Davis, or was it just very good?

I knew where we were going. I did tell him, another kidney stone, Silver Fox, you are on your own. Pedal your own bicycle out to the hospital.

Shields taught us how to play this board game he loved. I don’t know if the Hardin Simmons boys got to play Acquire, but at Howard Payne, Acquire games went on for days.

Of course, what else are you going to do in Brownwood?

Shields, the Silver Fox, had names for each of us. I will not repeat all of them. I was one of those revival preaching youth evangelists. Shields always called me The Big Evangelist, or the Big E. He usually laughed when he said it to me. He usually said it to me in front of a crowd.

Corinne, Jerry, Cindy; you cannot imagine how much I would love to hear him say it one more time.

God rest you, Silver Fox.

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