June 8, 1935 – May 3, 2014
NORWOOD – The Norwood community lost a gifted artist as well as a loving, caring and helpful husband, father and friend on May 3, with the passing of Rodney Alan Shaw.
Shaw’s extensive background and training combined to create a fine sculptor whose favorite medium was terracotta clay, though he also worked in wood, wax, cement and stone, and his subject matter was predominantly female and figurative, revealing a “sneaking fondness for calming beauty,” as he put it in one gallery bio.
A Renaissance man, Shaw was also a “very handy person, able to do electrical wiring, plumbing, building/repair/maintenance of houses, bicycles – anything one might need help with,” recalled his daughter Enid Shaw, of Ouray. “He also had a marvelous, witty sense of humor,” she said ,recalling a time in high school when she had to read Longfellow’s “Hiawatha.”
Her father composed his own poem in response, which he turned out “in a matter of minutes,” poking fun at the revered poet with his own teasing 38-line poem, beginning with the line: “Fie on thee, long(winded) fellow.”
Shaw was born on June 8, 1935, and raised near Chicago. He and his brother gave their mother “an incredible workout” when they were young, Enid said. He graduated with a double major in art and sociology from Reed College in Portland, Ore.,where he met his wife of almost 56 years, F. Ann Swift Shaw.
In 1958 the couple married and moved to Chicago, where Shaw received an MFA in Sculpture and a PhD in Art History and Archeology from the University of Chicago. He was a college professor in Wisconsin, Puerto Rico, the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga. and at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn.
In 1978 Shaw quit teaching to pursue sculpture full-time in Burnsville, N.C., “where he built a lovely house with a big sculpture studio,” Enid recalled. Twenty years later, he built an equally lovely house and studio in Norwood.
Rod and Ann loved to sing in their local church choir. While serving on the music committee of their church in Burnsville, N.C. (roughly the size of Ouray and Norwood combined), Enid said her father raised the caliber of music to the point where the church choir was able to perform Handel’s “Messiah” and part of Brahms’ “German Requiem.”
Science and astronomy were also major interests. “In his artwork, scholarliness, love of music, humor and helpfulness, he leaves the world a better place,” his daughter said.
Rodney Shaw passed away as the result of a fall in April. He would have been 79 on June 8. He is survived by his wife Ann, children Enid (Doug) of Ouray, and Edmund (Susan) of Pittsburgh, Pa., four grandchildren and nieces and nephews. A memorial service to be held in Ouray sometime in June will be announced in the near future.