ARLENE SEAL JOHNSON SHIELDS was born in the rolling hills of Guilford County, NC on January 13, 1925. Her early years were spent in that rural area where she attended consolidated schools with well-known actor Andy Griffith. Because of her excellence in 4H, she was invited to the White House to meet First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Upon graduation from Mount Airy High School, she attended Women’s College of the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Following graduation in June 1946 with a degree in Home Economics, she taught high school for a year. But when her superintendent introduced her to Dr. William E. Shields, the handsome new physician in town, sparks flew and the couple was married June 21, 1947 at the First Baptist Church in Mount Airy.
The young couple temporarily settled in Summerfield, NC where their first child was born. Dr. Shields offered general practice services to the community until the family relocated to Dallas, TX for him to complete his surgical residency at Parkland Hospital. During that time, Arlene worked at the hospital as a dietician until their second child was born. The military called for Dr. Shields’s services, so the family of four (including his mother Hettie Shields) relocated to Saipan in the Marianas Islands where Dr. Shields served as Naval Medical Commanding Officer as well an undercover CIA operative. Arlene used her talents to edit the island’s newspaper and surprisingly became the local golf champion. Upon returning to the United States, the Shields Family resided in both Winston-Salem and Reidsville, NC.
But Texas called—as did Collom & Carney Clinic and the Texarkana community. So, days after establishing a Texarkana home for their growing family in 1957, the couple joined First Baptist Church. During their 50+ years there, both assumed leadership roles with Arlene focusing on missions and senior adults. She served on the Pulpit Search Committee and also headed for a period of time the City’s Consolidated Mission efforts. In addition, she held leadership roles in other civic and women’s organizations.
During their extraordinary life together, Bill and Arlene traveled extensively visiting every continent. Following “Doc’s” 1990 retirement, the talented couple was able to fulfill their dream of serving on the Foreign Mission Field. They actually spent three months in Kenya, Africa as volunteers with Franklin Graham’s organization. During that period, Dr. Shields served as a relief surgeon for the native hospital while Arlene volunteered in the areas of nutrition and education. The couple was also actively involved in medical mission work in Guatemala and Honduras as well as a humanitarian project in Cuba.
One of their crowning accomplishments was the Youth Mission Endeavors which they jointly led for many years. Accompanied by a bevy of Christ-led sponsors, the Shields escorted a busload of First Baptist Church youth on Mission Endeavors throughout America as they witnessed for Christ, conducted Vacation Bible Schools, held revivals, and presented a Christian musical. Hundreds of youth were involved in these nine endeavors to: New Mexico; New York/Vermont; Nebraska/Colorado; Minnesota; South Dakota; Wyoming; California; Ohio; and Hawaii.
Though she was a 64-year resident of Texarkana, Arlene spent the last year of her life in McKinney, TX surrounded by a loving attentive staff and her children. She died peacefully joining her Heavenly Father on August 21st as she claimed her reward of eternal life.
She is survived by one son, Bill Shields, Jr. and wife Lola of Plano, TX; three daughters, Suzanne King and husband Jess of Austin, TX; Betsy Frame and husband Randy of Texarkana, TX; Martha Shields of McKinney, TX; and her “later” daughter/friend Mary Lou Dundee of Texarkana, AR who came to live with The Shields Family in 1963.
Arlene was especially close to her grandchildren and is survived by Alex Frame and his wife Holly of Celina, TX; Grant Shields and his wife Tania of Plano, TX; Courtney Montemayor and her husband Luis of Houston, TX; and three step-granddaughters: Debbie King Tigert of Ovilla, TX; Cheryl King of Temple, TX; and Kerri King of Ocala, FL. She was blessed with six great-grandchildren: Connor Frame of Harlan, IA; Austin Frame of Celina, TX; Maria and John Shields of Plano, TX; and Mia and Sage Montemayor of Houston TX. She also had four step-great-grandchildren she loved: Justin Leonard of Temple, TX; Rachel Leonard of Austin, TX; Nicholas Tigert of Ocala, FL; and Sydnee Tigert of Flagstaff, AZ.
In addition, Arlene was especially close to her North Carolina family who continued to support her during her later years. These include her niece Mary Wiggins Beard and her husband Hoyt of Winston-Salem plus their children Scott and Beth; also nephews Dick Joyce of Clemmons, NC and Tom Joyce of Statesville, NC.
Arlene was preceded in death by her husband who was born August 22, 1919 and died October 8, 2012; her parents Walter and Mary Seal Johnson of Mount Airy; her 27-year-old granddaughter Allison Elizabeth Frame of Texarkana who went to heaven in 2013; sister Ruby Elizabeth Joyce, 84, of Winston-Salem; and brother Monroe Johnson, 87, of Mount Airy.
A Memorial Celebration will take place on Saturday, September 10, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church on Moores Lane in Texarkana. Dr. Jeff Schreve will officiate with Visitation immediately following in the Atrium. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Texarkana Funeral Home on Texas Boulevard.
Pallbearers from Texarkana will be: Dr. Mark Addington, Daniel Bennett, Phillip Cockrell, and Dwayne Mitchell. Out-of-town Pallbearers include grandsons Alex Frame and Grant Shields; nephew Tom Joyce; Dr. Drew Smithers, Fayetteville, AR; and Dr. Mark Smithers, Atlanta, TX. Serving as Honorary Pallbearers are Judge Ed Miller, Pastor Larry Sims, “Dr.” James Spencer, Jim Wilson, and Dr. Nathan Wright—all from Texarkana.
The family offers special thanks to Philip and Lila Cockrell, Dr. Stan Griffin, Gwen Estill, Clarice Gary, Betty Mitchell, Cathy Smith, and Alyne Bradshaw plus other loving friends who made her widowed life so wonderful. It is especially grateful to Godwin Dixon and Teresa Whittington, co-owners of Teresa’s House in McKinney, TX for the loving care they and their fabulous staff provided Arlene during her last year—and to her special friend there Cheryl Badley. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials be made to From His Heart Ministries, P.O. Box 7267, Texarkana, TX 75505.