Longtime Owner And Breeder Joseph V. ‘Jerry’ Shields Jr. Dies

Prominent Thoroughbred owner-breeder Joseph V. “Jerry” Shields Jr. died peacefully in his sleep Oct. 10 in Thomasville, Ga., at the age of 80 with his wife of 30 years, Maury, at his side.

Mr. Shields always had a passion for horses. He played polo as a teenager in Long Island, started the first polo team as an undergraduate of Georgetown University and continued to play at Meadowbrook in Long Island, where he met competitive and formidable player H. Allen Jerkens.

In 1982, when his polo days concluded Mr. Shields turned his interest to breeding and racing Thoroughbreds, primarily using his old friend, the late Hall of Fame conditioner Allen Jerkens, to train for him, and, later, his son, Jimmy Jerkens. In his 36 year racing career, he produced 14 stakes winners, but the one that continued to give him the greatest thrill was his homebred Wagon Limit, who beat Skip Away to win the Jockey Club Gold Cup in 1998. Other graded stakes winners include Passing Shot, House Rules, Classic Point, Any Limit, House Party and Puzzlement. He loved walking the backstretch and always seemed to have a pocket full of carrots.

Mr. Shields had a Wall Street career spanning 56 years. With his brother, David, he founded Shields & Company in 1982. In 2009, H.G. Wellington and Shields & Company merged to form Wellington Shields. Mr. Shields was chairman until his death.

During his long business career, Mr. Shields served on the board of Flowers Foods Inc. (1989-2018), a NYSE food company; as chairman of the board of trustees of the BBH Funds (1990-2015), a mutual fund group of Brown Brothers Harriman; as director of Small Firms Advisory Committee (1963-1986); and on a NYSE Board Committee (1983-1986). He received his B.S. in finance and economics from Georgetown University.

A member of The Jockey Club, Mr. Shields had served as vice chairman and director of the New York Racing Association, as a director of the Breeders’ Cup, trustee of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, trustee of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and as a founding member of the National Thoroughbred Association. He also served as a trustee of the Boys Club of New York from 1990-2018.

A true family man, Mr. Shields liked being around  young people and often included his brood of nieces and nephews in his activities. For each of them, “Uncle Jerry” always had time and sound advice. A staunch conservative, his passion ran deep for America, the values it stands for and the unlimited opportunity it provides for all. A man of tremendous integrity, he will be remembered for his great loyalty, trustworthiness and honesty. It was known that his word was as good as gold. He conducted business on a handshake and expected the same integrity from his counterparts. No detail was trivial; to him it all had to be carefully scrutinized.

The day of his death was the exact day, 20 years earlier, that Mr. Shields won the Jockey Club Gold Cup with Wagon Limit. In addition, his passing was marked by the strongest hurricane to hit the Florida panhandle in recorded history making landfall.

Mr. Shields is survived by his beloved wife, Maury; his brother and business partner of 36 years, David; his sister, Helen Guest; as well as 12 nieces and nephews and nine-great nieces and nephews.

Memorials may be made to The Community Foundation of South Georgia Disaster Relif Fund. You may donate by mailing a check to Community Foundation of South Georgia, P.O. Box. 2654, Thomasville, GA 31799 or make a donation online at https://www.cfsga.net/donations.htm

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