William X. Shields

  • "May the flame you lighted in all who were blessed to know..."
    - Jimmy Hanrahan
  • "Too soon, too soon ! So glad you finally discovered your..."
  • "I will always remember fun days together in the Hamptons...."
    - Godfrey Bloch
  • "Willie was such a delightful person and always such fun...."
    - Victoria Mortimer de Navacelle
  • "He called me "Flipper" in our years as youngsters at East..."
    - Francis "Flip" Powers, Jr.

SHIELDS, WILLIAM X., former tennis player and coach, author of Bigger Than Life: The Last Great Amateur, the biography of his father, tennis legend Francis Xavier Shields, passed away after a heart attack on January 2nd at his home in Hollywood, Florida. He was 66. "Willy" led a rich and varied life. Though strongly against the war, he volunteered for the United States Army during the Vietnam era because of the racial and social injustice he saw in the draft. After the war, Willy briefly played competitive tennis in France, and then lived in Manhattan before settling in Florida in the 1980s. His passions were reading, tennis, warm weather, and the New York Yankees, all of which were satisfied during the many years he lived in Miami and Hollywood, Florida. A longtime tennis instructor at the famous Fontainebleau Hotel, Willy occasionally taught in a Yankees uniform, which led him to be mistaken for a player down from Ft. Lauderdale during spring training. After retiring from work at the Fontainebleau, Willy went on to teach tennis to Special Olympics athletes, a calling he enjoyed immensely. His children were his greatest joy and he raised them to meet life with a spirit of radical empathy. He will be well remembered and loved by all who knew him for a particularly keen sense of humor and an indomitable ability to see the good in every situation and in everyone he met. The son of the late Francis X. Shields and the late Katharine M. Blaine, Willy is survived by his wife Janet Lynn Shields, his children Morgan Christina Shields and Holton Joseph Shields, and his siblings Marina Shields Contardi, Christine Mortimer Biddle, Katharine Shields, and Walker Blaine.
Published in the Miami Herald on Jan. 10, 2016
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