2:55 p.m., TUESDAY, May 29, 2012
Gene Shields was the kind of father I've always wanted to be.
Whether it was watching Steve coaching basketball at McLennan Community College, Mike coaching football at Italy High School or Mark playing the sport of the season at Midway High School or spending time with Hal and his family, Gene and his wife, Nita, were always there for their precious sons.
And I'm sure they were just as doting on the 10 grandchildren. That's just the way Gene was.
The former Baylor golf coach and head golf pro at Ridgewood Country Club, Gene was 78 years old when he died late Sunday night at his home in Waco.
As a young pup reporter at the Waco Tribune-Herald, I got to know Gene in 1983 when Baylor golf was one of my many beat assignments. Through the years, I became friends with Gene and his sons, particularly Steve.
Gene coached the Bears for 18 years (1978-96), mentoring the likes of Tim Hobby, Kory Bowman, Jerry Smith and Jason Hill, and earned Southwest Conference Coach of the Year honors in 1994. But I can only imagine that his best days were when Steve (1986-88) and later Mark (1994-95) played for him at Baylor.
The thing that I remember about Gene, other than his passion for his family, was how he always had a joke to tell. Some of them I had heard before . . . from him . . . but I couldn't help but laugh. It was the way he told it and started laughing before he finished.
At Baylor, we mourn the loss of one of our own. Family visitation is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at Grace Gardens Funeral Home, with the funeral service scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Louis Catholic Church.