William P. Shields, Sr., 84, of Narragansett, passed away peacefully on Sunday, August 14, 2022 at South County Hospital following a brief illness. He was the husband of Joan (Durigan) Shields, with whom he celebrated their 50th anniversary in February.
Born in Providence, the son of the late Michael Shields and late Margaret (McNamara) Shields, Bill had made Narragansett his home for most of his life, first as a young man enjoying the summer at their family beach house and then full time where he and Joan raised their son Bill, Jr.
He was the longtime owner and proprietor of Twin Willows, turning it from a summertime bar to a year-round “must” for URI students, politicians, tourists, and local regulars throughout the 1970s and 1980s. After making the “Billburger” and “Mertburger” legendary, he sold the Twin Willows to his brother-in-law, the late Philip Durigan, and sister-in-law, Patricia (Kirk) Durigan in 1984; it remains with the Durigan family to this day. Bill owned and operated Bonnet Liquors in Narragansett from 1987 to 1994.
Politics was Bill’s passion throughout much of his life. His friendships with public officials over the years defied definition. Campaign treasurer for a wide range of state and local campaigns, Bill served as director of administration for Attorney General James E. O’Neil from 1987 to 1993; commissioner on the RI Fire Safety Code Board of Appeal and Review under Governor J. Joseph Garrahy; and member of the RI Board of Elections as an appointee of Governor Bruce G. Sundlun. In a world where politics is increasingly seen as transactional, zero sum and a negative, Bill saw it as a game of possibilities, doing well by doing good. And, having a great deal of fun along the way.
In addition to his wife, Bill leaves his devoted son, Bill, Jr., and daughter-in-law, Alison, of Washington, DC, whom Bill lovingly tormented with phone calls only a bit less frequently than he did his son. In his later years, Bill found great joy in Georgia, his only granddaughter, who lovingly referred to him as “BB.” He leaves many nieces and nephews and was predeceased by brothers John and Michael, and sister Margaret (Shields) McKnight.
A private Mass of Christian Burial was held earlier this month. Donations in his memory may be made to Bishop Hendricken High School, 2615 Warwick Avenue, Warwick RI 02889.
The Shields family expresses its heartfelt appreciation to the staff of St. Elizabeth Community, Fr. Robert Marciano, and the Skeffington family. Service and burial are private.
Arrangements entrusted to the J.F. Skeffington Funeral Home & Cremations. For online condolences kindly visit: Skeffingtonfuneralhome.com.