Julia Morgan's original drawings for our Clubhouse, Courtesy of Cal Poly Archives

Member Spotlight

Articles to share more about our amazing members!
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  • July 29, 2014 5:08 PM | Linda Wilson (Administrator)

    She was my Monday Club “caller” for many years. I looked forward to hearing her cheery voice over the phone each month to set my luncheon reservation. Unfortunately she suffered a fall a year ago, requiring a move from her Los Osos home to Casa de Flores.

    Idabelle Shields is a most remarkable person. Her stories are wonderful, and what aIdabelle looking radiant mischievous sense of humor in the telling.  In August, Idabelle will celebrate her 103rd birthday – earning the distinction as our most senior Club member.

    Idabelle’s life-journey has been a mix of joy and sorrow. She and her siblings were adopted by an aunt and uncle after the accidental drowning of both parents. In 1934 she graduated from UCLA with a degree in English. Her USC Master’s degree study was cut short when she married Jack Conroy. They had two sons, Robert and Richard.  Widowed in 1976, she married Robert Shields in 1978. She was widowed again ten years later.

    Idabelle’s son Richard was seriously injured in a 2006 car accident and suffered traumatic brain damage. Robert, his wife Judy, and a granddaughter Kelsey are in close touch with Idabelle.  But, her stories (in-brief) are must-sharing:

    She attended high school with Gerald Ford and treasures his autograph in her yearbook.

    Two railroad box cars were once called her Gallup, New Mexico “home” when her husband worked for the Santa Fe RR.

    She once received a thank-you letter from “Big Thumb Idabelle” – one of several Navajo men she had helped to get their government wages through proxy marriage – for giving him a required last name.  “Big Thumb” was confused about his new name and used “Idabelle.” [Some of the men were under the impression that Idabelle had really married them.]

    Idabelle loved joining in the Club’s Hi Jinx performances – skits including “Casey at the Bat” to “Bugle Boy of Company B.” And does she love a good joke? Idabelle collects the best to share. At our Club meeting honoring long-time members, she allowed that …” the best part about being 102 is the lack of peer pressure!”

    Idabelle at 103 - isn't she amazing!

    During one of my visits she wondered aloud why she has so much trouble sleeping, and instead lies in bed at night thinking about such things as how to say the alphabet backwards – which Idabelle promptly recited to me quickly and flawlessly.  Idabelle is an avid “Spider Solitaire” player, served up on her laptop computer, and a voracious Kindle reader (100 books last year).  A marvelous friend and a joy to know, Idabelle Shields has been an active and joyful Club member and our inspiration.

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