Renee is at Peace

Renee died very peacefully this evening at 8:44pm Thanks to all for
your love and prayers as we send her on her way.

In love and gratitude,



Below is her obituary and here is a brief clip of Renee's own thoughts on death and dying...


Renee Shields

Born: March 11. 1944 Died: May 12, 2007

Renee Shields, resident and teacher in Upper Lake, CA, died on May 12, 2007 from cancer. She was 63 years old.

Renee was born Lorraine Gail Shields, in Merced, California on March 11, 1944. She entered religious life as a Sister of the Holy Family in 1963, taking the name Sister Mary Renee, and remained in religious life for 30 years. She left the convent and entered into a committed partnership with Denise Rushing in 1993 and helped raise two children: Brian Rushing, now 24, and Teresa Rushing, now 22.

Renee taught Special Education at Upper Lake High School and was a licensed family counselor. She held two Masters Degrees: One in counseling from California State University-Fresno and one in religious education from University of San Francisco. She was a credentialed teacher, who worked in Public Schools since 1997 and taught religious education for 30 years, while a Sister of the Holy Family. She also co-founded Rockhaven Ecozoic Center, a non-profit eco-spiritual retreat center and holistic community in House Springs Missouri.

Renee is survived by her sister Cynthia Shields of Fresno, California, her brothers, James Arthur Shields III of Parker, Colorado and Harold Shields of Clovis, California as well as nieces and nephews in California, Colorado and Texas. She leaves behind immediate family including domestic partner of 14 years, Denise Rushing and her two adult children: Brian Rushing of Portland, Oregon and Teresa Rushing of Upper Lake, CA.

Renee took great joy in flower arranging, weaving, caring for the pets and livestock at the family’s farm and creative tasks, including baking cookies and cakes for the students and staff at Upper Lake High School. Throughout life, she was known for her kindness and humor, her generosity, and her love of children. She is remembered with deep love and gratitude by all she encountered.

Private Services will be held at a future date. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be sent to one of the following organizations:

Sisters of the Holy Family,
P. O. Box 3248,
Mission San Jose, CA 94539-0324

Hospice Services of Lake County,
1717 South Main Street
Lakeport, CA 95453

Rockhaven Ecozoic Center
7621 Rivermont Trail
House Springs, MO 63051


  1. My thoughts are with your family. It sounds like even those of us who didn't know her were blessed to have Renee with us.

  2. Denise, we are with you and your family....we will try to speak with you sometime today (Sunday). Or if it is easier, you phone us when you can so that we don't disturb anything you are about....we love you. Jan and Diza

  3. Dear Denise,
    We just heard about Renee. We are deeply sorry for your loss. Please know that the circle of life continues and we are proud to be part of your circle. Know Brian and Theresa are in our prayers as well as Renee's family. It has been an honor having you and Renee in our lives. May perpetual light shine upon her soul! We love you too. Dedra & Lora

  4. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Your blog is a beautiful tribute and testament to your love for each other.

    I will be experiencing Rockhaven for the first time this summer with Dedra and others: I am already grateful for the energy you have put into creating the Ecozoic Center, and now for the energy you put into honoring your life together. May you experience peace during your grieving.

  5. Denise,I am very sorry to hear about Ms.Shields.She was the best
    teacher I have ever had.My heart is
    with you.
    From Brian Ellis.

  6. im so sorry for the loss,i send my love and wishes for your family.

  7. Gretchen FergusonMay 14, 2007 at 9:56 AM

    Dear Denise,
    I'm sorry for your loss. Renee was such a sweet, gentle soul, and I appreciated the kindness she showed me. She was loved by all who were fortunate enough to be touched by her grace. I will remember her always.

    Gretchen Ferguson
    Upper Lake High School

  8. Dear, denise im sorry to hear about ur loss ms. shields was very loved we will all miss her at upperlake high school and her love and caring she was a good teacher and she will always be in my heart and prayers i give best wishes to ur family I will remember her always.

    jasmine diggs

  9. Renee was one of the most loving and selfless people I've ever met. I remember vividly how, at the Wilderness party in February, she greeted us warmly and cheerfully, as though to say, "Don't worry about me, see, I'm still smiling and happy."
    I am very grateful for her devotion to and contribution to her community and Denise.
    - Juliana

  10. danielle de heerMay 14, 2007 at 12:53 PM

    Dear Denise, I am so grateful that ms. shields had you to take such good care of her towards the end, thats probably the most help she ever let someone give her, always being the one who made sure everyone else was comfortable and well fed. My children were very sad to hear the news, I told them we were blessed to be graced by her presence for the time we were. I hold all the memories of her dear to my heart and am better myself for knowing her. God Bless you, Danielle

  11. Denise,
    May I offer you condolences on your loss? The burdens of public office are great enough without adding a load of grief to your shoulders.
    George J. Dorner

  12. Dear Denise,

    Thank you and Renee for opening your life. Listening to Renee speak of her own death really made an impression, and already I am thinking about illness and death differently, less in the medical model, more in the earth.

    So Thank you.

    Much Peace to you,

    Sue S

  13. The last time I saw Renee was at the Upper Lake Pioneer Parade as she drove the Prius. I think she was a beacon of love and kindness and very courageous. I feel fortunate to have known her, albeit briefly. Chris


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