Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Mary Ann Shields

September 29, 1917 - November 16, 2019
Kalamazoo, MI


Mass of Christian Burial

Wednesday, November 20, 2019
11:00 AM EST
St. Thomas More Parish
421 Monroe Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49006

A luncheon will follow in the church hall. Burial will take place at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Heartland Hospice
8075 Creekside Drive #120
Portage, MI 49024
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


With a life that spanned more than a century, Mary Shields brought such beauty to the world around her. She was kind and generous with her time and resources as she made an impact in the lives of so many others in ways both great and small. Deeply devoted to her loved ones, Mary was the matriarch of her family and always there to support her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in everything they did. A woman of faith, she exempted what it means to be the hands and feet of the Lord she loved. Treasured by so many, Mary will be forever missed.

Life in America was drastically different during the early 1900s than it is today as unsafe working conditions and a lack of child labor laws plagued the nation’s workforce from coast to coast. In 1917, repeated hostilities in the Pacific left us no choice but to engage in WWI, dashing our hopes of remaining neutral. This same year was met with great joy as Edward and Louise (Kealey) Moran learned they would be expecting a baby later in the year. Their wait was over on September 29th when the baby girl they named Mary Ann was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her father sold gourmet high-end food to restaurants throughout the Midwest while her mother was a homemaker. A few years after she was born, Mary was joined by her sister, Margaret. Tragedy struck in their family when her mother died of cancer when Mary was just three-and-a-half. Family stepped in to help raise Mary and her sister as her father never remarried. While growing up, Mary was always protective of her sister.

From the time she was a young girl, Mary was a bustle of activity. She took violin lessons, loved going swimming at her aunt and uncle’s cottage, and frequented dances at the hall in Downtown Kalamazoo. Mary was an avid reader and attended local schools where she took part in school plays. She also took violin lessons. During her earliest years as a student Mary attended Nazareth Girls School. While in high school their family moved to Monroe, Michigan, and Mary graduated from Visitation High School in 1935. From there she attended Parsons Business School for two years and became a bookkeeper for Pete Schied, which was a high-end grocery store and Pete purchased goods from Mary’s father. Mary continued working until her husband Phil returned from service.

It was while at a dance hall that Mary met the young man of her dreams. His name was Phillip Shields, and they met while both were part of a big dance group that always had so much fun together. Soon after, he was drafted into the Army during the days of WWII. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Mary and Phillip were married on February 14, 1942, at St. Augustine Church while he was home on leave. The newlyweds enjoyed a honeymoon to Niagara Falls, and then he returned to fulfill his military duties. In 1947, they started a family and had six kids in seven years including Timothy, Thomas, Molly, Mark, Jamie, and Beth. In 1960 their family was completed with the birth of their son, Dennis. Mary focused her time and attention at home and was an amazing homemaker who effortlessly managed a household with a large family. She had a strong Catholic faith, and she also taught her children all about the faith she held near and was faithful in praying the rosary.

Around the home Mary was always on the go. She kept a neat and orderly home. Mary’s skills in the kitchen didn’t disappoint, and it has been said that she made the best roast pork, and mashed potatoes with gravy ever! She hosted the holidays every year, and no detail was left undone in making it such a special time for her family. Phillip helped with all the kids, too, and together they made an unmatched team. Mary was a great role model. She never used any slang or swore, but, “So help me, Hannah” was what she said when she was mad.

Throughout her life Mary was into so many things. She remained an avid reader and read nearly anything she could get her hands on including world history and biographies. On Saturdays Mary and Phillip would get 14 books for the two of them to read through that week. Mary did some traveling including an extensive trip to England with her friend, Kitty. Before she left she studied up on literature. Mary also loved the arts and exposed her kids to the theatre and art center. She always told her kids that, “Music fills the spirit.” Mary enjoyed classical, jazz, blues, and Broadway music as well. Over the years Mary attended countless symphony performances, plays, Gilmore Festivals, and shows at the Barn Theatre, often with her friends and sisters-in-law. A lifelong learner, she even took classes at the art center when she was in her seventies. Mary also took some literature classes at Kalamazoo College. With their oldest son, Tim, being special needs, both she and Phillip were very active in the special needs community, creating and participating in various groups and organizations. Mary taught CCD for special needs kids at St. Augustine Church for many years as she was always so generous. She liked watching Gary Moore and Carol Burnett, and even into her nineties she was still watching C-SPAN and CNN and remaining up to date on politics and current events. Mary had a great laugh, and she could often be heard laughing at night as she watched her favorite shows.

There was never anything of greater importance to Mary than spending time with her family. She loved being involved with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Whether they were doing something out and about or just playing games or cards, Mary always had the best time when she was with them. She loved sharing her love for reading with her children and grandchildren as she always gave them books.

All who knew Mary Shields would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She was someone who never had an unkind word to say about anyone, and was just known as someone who was always there. Mary endured hardship in her life with grace. Together, her and Phil were so proud to witness their family grow to include the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren they adored. Deeply loved, she will be forever missed.

Mary Ann Shields, age 102, died November 16, 2019, at Ely Manor Nursing and Rehab in Allegan. Members of her family include 7 children: Timothy Shields, Thomas (Samantha) Shields, Molly Kryzer, Mark (Davina) Shields, Jamie (Laurie) Shields, Beth Shields and Dennis Shields; 11 grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren; and several Shields and Simmerer nieces and nephews. Mary was preceded in death by her husband, Phillip Shields; a sister, Margaret Simmerer and by a son-in-law, David Kryzer. Cremation will take place. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Wednesday (Nov. 20th) 11AM at St. Thomas More Parish. A luncheon will follow in the church hall. Burial will take place at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Please visit Mary’s personal memory page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her guestbook. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Heartland Hospice.