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University family remembers Judith Shaw

February 01, 2013 12:00AM

University family remembers Judith Shaw
Colleagues recognize Judith Shaw for 50 years of service to PSU in 2008.

The Pittsburg State University family will gather Saturday to remember a woman who was a fixture on the PSU campus for more than half a century. A memorial for Judith Shaw, a member of the faculty in the Department of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences, will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, in the Sharon Kay Dean Recital Hall in McCray Hall. Shaw died in Lawrence, Kan., on Dec. 25, 2012.

Shaw, 81, joined the PSU faculty in 1959, teaching continuously until she became ill in 2012. Previously, she had taught at Georgetown University. Her area of research included British and French history, local history and women’s history in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Shaw developed a reputation among students as a great storyteller and many former students said she made history come alive for them.

“I have great memories of her classes,” wrote Ron Rice, a former student. “I loved how she would come into the room, set her purse and coffee down and then sit on the desk and just start talking. I've never had a history teacher who could come in with no notes and tell a story all hour, let alone for one day but all semester long. I will miss her, and will try to pass on her style of teaching with my own as I teach in bush Alaska.”

Another former student, Cathleen Garrison, remembered that Shaw almost never read from prepared notes.

“From Cleopatra to the British Empire, she told us her stories and we listened like children hearing a great bedtime story,” Garrison wrote.

At a ceremony recognizing Shaw’s 50th year of teaching at PSU, colleague John Daley estimated that Shaw had taught at least 10,000 students in her career.

“Some of our current students have grandparents who took courses from Judy and still ask after her,” Daley said, “and her hundreds of local presentations over the years have made her well known off campus, even to those who have never taken a course from her.”

President Steve Scott said Shaw was an example of the kind of teacher who leaves a lasting impression.

“Judy was a talented and caring educator who, over the course of more than a half-century at PSU, touched the lives of countless students and colleagues,” Scott said.

Shaw was born March 21, 1931, in Champaign, Ill., the daughter of Judson Roy and Phoebe Helen (Gaston) Griffin. She graduated from Bowling Green High School in three years at the age of 16 and received her undergraduate degree from Western Kentucky State University. She earned a master’s degree from the University of Kentucky. Shaw was a Fulbright Scholar and studied at the Sorbonne.

Survivors include a son, Michael Shaw of Le Roy, Kan.; a step-grandson, Shawn Lane of Lawrence, Kan.; a sister-in-law, Patty Griffin of Huntsville, Ala.; as well as nieces and nephews and grand nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents and a brother, Judson Roy Griffin II.

©2013 Pittsburg State University