Bill Shields, the longtime WBZ-TV reporter who graced New England viewers’ screens for decades, died Saturday morning at age 70 following a years-long battle with cancer, the TV station confirmed.
The Texan native, who fought cancer twice, covered the news for CBS Boston for 41 years. As an Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist, he brought creativity, emotion and a sense of humor to local news reporting, covering everything from the snowy New England weather to military parents being reunited with their children.
“I had the pleasure of working with Bill in the mid-/late 2000s. Bill had an amazing ability to tell personal stories with humanity, dignity, and grace. Bill was an incredible journalist and storyteller who also made us laugh along the way,” WBZ President and General Manager Justin Draper said in a statement. “Bill was a legend at WBZ, reporting for the station for more than 41 years before retiring in September 2021. My sympathies and prayers go out to all of Bill’s family and friends.”
Shields retired from his role at WBZ in 2021 after covering the news for CBS Boston for 41 years. Through his reporting, he took viewers to locations across New England, ranging from the highest peak in the Northeast atop Mt. Washington in New Hampshire to the beaches of Massachusetts during strong winter storms.
“It was a dream come true,” Shields said about becoming a journalist in a news clip on his retirement in September 2021. “We were going around the world covering stories. It was quite a time. I’ve had nothing but fun.”
“I am blessed to have lived in New England for 41 years and have had more fun than anyone is entitled to,” Shields added, “and I got to thank of all people, the photogs, the editors, my wife of 30 years now.”
The beloved journalist previously battled lung cancer and won. While being honored at a November 2021 event for Upstage Lung Cancer, a nonprofit that uses performing arts to raise awareness and funding for research into the disease, Shields said he was undergoing treatment again after a new diagnosis, WBZ reported.
“This is equally difficult to get through physically, and mentally, it’s a longer haul. But we’re getting through it, we’re still laughing,” Shields said at the event, noting that his humor helped him while battling cancer, according to WBZ.
“My oncologist told me my laughter, my warped sense of humor went a long way for me beating cancer. So, laughter is what this night is all about,” Shields said.
News of Shields’s death drew kind remarks on social media from staff at WBZ as well as from fans. Steve Burton, sports director for the news outlet, called Shields “beyond special” in a tweet, and anchor David Wade called him “the very best reporter” with a “top notch personality.”
Anchor Paula Ebben noted Shields “took a bite out of life.”
“He was my friend, but truly – he was everyone’s friend. A Texas boy who embraced New England, and LOVED telling stories here. Can’t even think of him without a smile,” Ebben said in a tweet. “@wbz will always miss his laughter in the newsroom. Love you, Bill.”