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home : obituaries : obituaries
November 21, 2017

10/30/2017 11:14:00 AM
Robert Austin Shaw

3/12/1935 - 9/1/2017


Bob Shaw, 82, beloved husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, and friend, entered into eternal rest on September 1, 2017, after a long, brave battle with metastatic prostate cancer and dementia. His devoted wife of 59 years, Suzanne VanderMeer Shaw (Sue), was at his side throughout that journey. Bob was a generous and gentle man whose kindness and good humor will be missed by all who knew him. He had a great smile and loving spirit that stayed with him all of his days.


Bob was born in Providence, RI, on March 12, 1935, the only child of the late Ralph Sprague Shaw and Ruth Austin Shaw. He grew up in East Greenwich, RI, where he started sailing at an early age, and spent countless hours sailing and working at the East Greenwich Yacht Club.


After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Trinity College (Hartford, CT) in 1957, he was hired by the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company, where he would have a career spanning 35 years. He and Sue were married in Waterbury, CT in 1958. Over the next 6 years, his work with HSB would take them to Houston, TX, and San Francisco, CA. They settled in East Hartford, CT in 1965, where they raised their three sons, Jeff, Bruce and Doug. 


In recent years, he and Sue spent winters at their condo on Manasota Key in Englewood, FL, where he continued to enjoy two of his passions--boating, earning him the nickname Captain Bob, and playing his upright bass. He was an accomplished musician and began his musical odyssey In the 1960s, when he played the banjo in a Dixieland band in California. In the 1970s he played the bass drum with Glastonbury's Nayaug Ancient Fife and Drum Corps, marching in dozens of parades during that Bicentennial decade. When he was in his forties, he taught himself to play the upright bass, and went on to play with several Bluegrass, Folk, Americana, and Gospel bands in Connecticut and Florida. He was an ardent fan of the UCONN women's basketball team, attending many home and away games and several Final Fours. He was an avid reader, a history buff, a crossword puzzle whiz, and a Trivial Pursuit champion. 


Bob enjoyed time spent with family and friends, and will be sadly missed and lovingly remembered by all who knew him. He was predeceased by his parents, and by a beloved son, Jeffrey Robert Shaw. Besides his wife, his survivors include his loving sons and their families--Bruce Austin Shaw, his wife Songzhu Li-Shaw and their daughter Yinhua Bai; Douglas Gordon Shaw, his wife Susanne Engels Shaw and their children Stephanie Susanne Shaw and Austin VanderMeer Shaw-- and a cousin, Sally Michael, of West Yarmouth, MA.


In lieu of flowers, Bob's family suggests that, in keeping with his spirit, you do a random act of kindness in his memory




What is Dying

A poem by Bishop Brent

As I am standing upon the seashore, a ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other. 

Then someone at my side says, "There! She's gone!"

"Gone where? Gone from my sight, that's all", she is just as large in mast and spar and hull as she was when she left my side; just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of her destination.

Her diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her. 

And just at that moment when someone at my side says "There! She's gone!", there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!" 

And that is dying...

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