Mildred Marie Shields Cummings of North Little Rock died on her 99th birthday, January 15, 2021. The youngest child of Oliver James Shields and Allie Moore Shields, she was born in the family’s farm house at Brownsville, Arkansas (Lonoke County) January 15, 1922.
Her faith never wavered even as she suffered the loss of her husband, Milford L. Cummings, the love of her life whom she met in the third-grade and who was “the first red-haired person I ever met.” He died of kidney disease April 10, 1958, his 36th birthday, and with three young children “to raise and protect,” she never considered marrying again.
Mildred was also preceded in death by her son, John Michael Cummings, who died at age 66 on April 12, 2020; by her parents; by her sisters: Garland Shields, Emma Hill, Blanche McIntyre, Mabel Larkin, Ruby Hackney, and by her brothers: Maurice Shields, Oliver Shields, and Floyde Shields.
While Milford was at sea serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Mildred took a job in a manufacturing plant in Memphis making 35-cents an hour and later was one of 14,000 Arkansans—mostly women—who worked for 50-cents an hour, good wages at the time, on assembly lines at the defense ordnance plant in Jacksonville where fuses, boosters, detonators, and primers were produced.
Faced with rearing young children alone after her husband’s untimely death in 1958 and with no education beyond high school, Mildred went back to work part-time in a downtown Little Rock shoe store while also enrolled in the Draughn School of Business.
After completing her business school studies, she served for 37 years as office manager for Drs. Frank Morgan and Charles Kennedy in North Little Rock where she was admired and much-loved by staff and patients alike.
Mildred’s long hours of work, business savvy, thrift, and her husband’s Social Security death benefits enabled her not only to provide for her children as they were growing up, but also to pay-off her home mortgage in less than eight years, and see that all three of her children earned college degrees and completed graduate work in their fields of study.
After her retirement from managing physicians’ offices, Mildred began arising at 5:00 a.m., two days a week so she wouldn’t be late for another job she loved, checking-in students and parents at Teachers’ Pet Preschool in North Little Rock. She eventually retired, once again, this time at the age of 92.
Always at the center of church activities, Mildred was a longtime member of Central Baptist church where for 35 years she served as director of the preschool Sunday School program. She later became a member of Park Hill Baptist Church in North Little Rock where her volunteer service included working in the church food pantry, recording books for the blind, and visiting home-bound church members, friends, and neighbors.
Mildred loved reading books, shopping, preparing birthday and holiday dinners for her family, dining with her Red Hat Society girlfriends, traveling across the country to visit family and friends, attending national crew reunions of the U.S.S. Clinton on which her husband served in WWII, writing in her journal, telling family stories dating back to the 1920s and serving as counselor and mentor to her nieces, nephews, and grandchildren.
Remembering her with much love are her children Judy Teeter and husband Jim of Little Rock and Jennie Harrison and husband John of North Little Rock; grandchildren: Brian Teeter of Little Rock, Rebecca Teeter Long of Jonesboro, Jill Harrison Hernandez of North Little Rock, and Caitlin Cummings Spengler, Hayley Cummings and Brooke Cummings Collins of Las Vegas.
Also remembering Mildred for her unequivocal love and warm embrace are her seven great-grandchildren: Helen Teeter, Catherine, Andrew, and Averitt Long, and Emily, Noah and Graysen Hernandez.
The family will visit with friends Monday, January 18, 2021, at 1:00 PM at Smith North Little Rock Funeral Home. Services will take place at 2:00 PM with Dr. Ken Shaddox officiating. Interment will follow at Brownsville Cemetery (Lonoke County).
State of AR COVID-19 directives: Face coverings required. Maintain social distancing.
Arrangements by Smith North Little Rock Funeral Home, 1921 Main St, North Little Rock, AR 72114, 501-758-1170.
To send flowers to Mildred's family, please visit our floral store.