April 2019 Honorees
Shields and Bertha McManus - Helping others is woven into their lives
The lives of Shields and Bertha McManus bring to mind a fabric that is very strong and will hold a heavy weight, but is also very soft to the touch and beautifully made with a rainbow of colors. It is a blanket of comfort and support that they freely share with others.
Shields has had a successful 35-year career as an attorney and judge but recently scaled back to a solo law and mediation practice. Shields and Bertha, his wife of 51 years, now have the time to kick back a little and travel.
His civil litigation career began in 1972 in Stuart followed by ten years as the Circuit Judge of the 19th Circuit of Florida. Bertha devoted more than 30 years to teaching, including 18 years in Stuart, and as an adjunct instructor at Indian River State College, through the 90s.
They met in 1967 while attending Florida State University. They were both involved in the Catholic Student Center at FSU and the following year they were married in the student center church. Apparently they both realized they had met their match and their life together blossomed from there.
Bertha and Shields have both invested much of their time, talent and energy in our community and have touched the lives of many people.
One of their volunteer interests is the theatrical arts; Shields has been an actor, singer, director, legal advisor and president of the Barn Theatre. Bertha served on the board of the Lyric Theatre. She left her mark there with the placement of a sidewalk star in honor of a beloved English teacher at Martin County High School who died tragically.
Their Catholic faith remains a motivation and a magnet for their lives. Bertha has assisted in the school at St. Joseph Catholic Church and her smiling face greets those who attend Sunday Mass. She has been a volunteer and chair of the school’s parent-teacher association.
Shields serves on the Pastoral Council, the Rebuilt Team and sings in the adult choir. He enjoys participating in the liturgy and advises the pastor. One of the qualities that he embraces is that the church provides multicultural worship and volunteer ministries to members and outreach to non-members.
Bertha and Shields are both advocates for children. Their concern is evident in their volunteer activities too. Bertha mentored two teenagers for eight years with Big Brothers Big Sisters and continues to have a relationship with one of them.
Shields is a director with Tykes and Teens, a non-profit provider of mental health counseling and prevention services to children in Martin, St. Lucie, Okeechobee and Indian River Counties. He is actively involved and attends board meetings, participates in fundraisers and grant presentations and committee work. He proudly shares that the organization’s counselors see over 1,200 clients. They also have an infant health program for families, provide services in 22 Martin County schools, three Okeechobee schools and provide an alternative out of school suspension program in Martin County.
Shields has been a volunteer with The Chapman School of Seamanship for 35 years. He serves as director and chairman of the board of directors and has been the general counsel. Founded in 1971, the nonprofit school enjoys an excellent reputation for professional mariner and recreational boat training at their waterfront campus in Port Salerno.
Since 2018 Shields has been a member of the Florida State Commission on Ethics, a state agency that reviews ethics law compliance by all municipal, county and state elected and appointed officials and all senior employees. The committee meets in Tallahassee and votes at hearings regarding ethics violations. He has served on many professional committees including with The Florida Bar.
In the late 70s and early 80s he was a director and chairman of the Stuart/Martin Chamber of Commerce; he was also a founding director and general counsel to Stuart Mainstreet, Inc.
Bertha has volunteered with Hibiscus Children’s Center at their thrift store since the 1990s. She also finds time to campaign for Democratic Party candidates who will push for river-related policies.
Now the couple has the time to enjoy some more vacations and have visited Siesta Key Beach, Asheville, NC and Beach Mountain, NC. Their two sons, Barry, age, 45, and Justin, age 41, also enjoy vacationing with them with their wives and children.
Shields and Bertha enjoyed a Viking cruise from Athens to Rome, visiting many ancient sites. They recently traveled to Sedona and the Grand Canyon.
We asked Shields and Bertha what their one wish is for Martin County. Shields said, “While sustaining its many good features, provide more opportunities for young people, particularly affordable housing. Bertha’s environmental interest was evident when she said, “Clean up and sustain our natural environment, particularly the Indian River Lagoon and the St. Lucie River.”
Whether they are traveling or at home, their intentions and actions include helping others and investing for more in today’s world.