Kenneth Dale Shields

March 10, 1931March 4, 2020

Born on March 10, 1931, Kenneth Dale Shields passed away on March 4, 2020.

Arrangements in the care of Sparkman/Hillcrest Funeral Home.


Kenneth Dale Shields

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Debbie Dale Rowland

September 16, 2020

Dr. Shields was one of the most amazing English professors I had at SMU. His knowledge of all aspects of English literature was encyclopedic and truly astonishing. Along with his incredible scholarship he was one of the kindest, most caring teachers I ever knew. In class he would explain things patiently, thoroughly, and above all, in a clear and orderly manner so that students could understand. Outside of class he was equally gracious, always available to help and giving students as much time as they needed. Over the long course of my studies, Professor Shields helped me through some rough times both academically and spiritually. Numerous times, both in class and out, he quoted the Scripture about all things working together for good (Rom. 8:28).

Dr. Shields's religious orientation also made him a great gift on the English faculty. He was the only professor I knew who had strong, scholarly, and frankly-spoken-of Christian beliefs. This was critical to me as a student coming from a traditional, conservative background into an environment that often seemed alien and cold. Dr. Shields taught the authors and works against a backdrop of strong religious scholarship, along with a generous, open understanding of biblical truths. Through discussions covering the grandest scope to the minutest details, he passed on this sensibility, imparting to students an implicit faith and therefore a positive outlook on life.

When I spoke to Dr. Shields a few years ago, he answered some religious/literary questions I'd had for about 30 years. Though having such serious moments, that visit with him and Joanna was mainly a delightful, light-hearted occasion of remembering the '70s to mid-'80s SMU. And that memory brings up a no less true and central attribute of Dr. Shields: his terrific sense of humor and "wicked wit," which I think was how he liked to describe some of his favorite Restoration/18th-century characters! I know he's up there laughing with them now!

Mary Shepard Spaeth

June 19, 2020

It is with a heavy heart that I write in this space always knowing that one day it would come but never wanting to ever lose any opportunity to spend time in person or on the phone talking with one of my favorite human beings. My undergraduate and graduate advisor, mentor, colleague and good friend for nearly 45 years, I will miss you. Thank you for your kindness, wit, humour, intellect, generosity of spirit and friendship. Joanna, and family, warmest wishes to you during this challenging year. All my love to you all. Mary

Beth Newman

March 13, 2020

When I arrived at SMU as a newly hired assistant professor in 1986, Ken welcomed me warmly and helped me feel at home in a new, somewhat strange place. Throughout the years Ken was my colleague, he often added his fair-minded perspective during contentious moments at faculty meetings, presenting it without rancor and with his characteristically calm, soft-spoken manner. I want the family to know that my husband Bruce Levy and I have made a donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center as a tribute to Ken's lifelong commitment to the fight against bigotry and hate. Joanna, my thoughts are with you at this sad time.

Mary Brooke Casad

March 12, 2020

I was blessed to have Dr. Shields for my freshman English course at SMU. What an amazing teacher he was! His classes were pure joy; he encouraged me and inspired me in ways that are with me still today. I was also fortunate to get to know Joanna and even babysat their daughters. Over the years our paths have crossed from time to time, and I have appreciated their many kindnesses to me. I give thanks for his life and witness. What a generous, authentic man of faith who gave so much of himself to others. Thanks be to God! My prayers are with Joanna, Katherine and Margaret and all the family. May you find comfort in cherished memories and hope in our resurrection faith. Romans 14:8
Mary Brooke Oliphint Casad