Bill Shaw

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bill Shaw, 63, died Nov. 11 at St. Andrews Place Nursing Home in Conway.

He was born Dec. 11, 1946 in Houston, Texas, a son of the late Joe C. and Elizabeth (Kenfield) Shaw. He was also preceded in death by a granddaughter, Lauren Elaine Shaw.

Shaw was a retired physician's assistant and a member of First United Methodist Church of Conway. He was one of the first physician's assistants in Arkansas in the early 1970s.

He also held a master's degree in Counseling and worked in many different locations from North Carolina to the National Parks out west.

Before failing health forced his move to Conway, he lived on Beaver Lake outside Eureka Springs and was a member of the Beaver Lake Sailing Club. Assisted by local sailors, he won many regattas, including the Arkansas Cup Series in 2000 and 2001 aboard his 25 ft. Hunter Kemah. Bill's generosity and willing spirit helped grow the sport of sailing in Eureka Springs.

An ardent nature photographer and conservationist, he publicly decried the destruction of half of Leatherwood Valley by highway construction and used his mordant wit to argue for preservation of the western approach to Eureka Springs on US62.

Bill loved the outdoors, camping, canoeing, kayaking and sailing. He enjoyed floating the Kings River and full moon floats on the Buffalo.

He was an accomplished picker and an avid admirer of Arkansas Roots music.

He was also one of the first members of the Arkansas Canoe Club, where he won many awards and was an instructor at the annual canoe school hosted by the club.

He is survived by his son, William K. Shaw, Jr., and wife Sarah of Conway; and grandchildren, Allison, Emile and Brandon Shaw, all of Conway.

Shaw was buried Nov. 15 at Crestlawn Memorial Park, under the direction of Roller McNutt Funeral Home, Conway.

[Eds. note: Following is a letter to the editor from Bill Shaw in 2005 which says more about who he was than we ever could.]


As an Arkansas native I've learned some highway improvements are welcome - some are disastrous. The Arkansas Community of Excellence (ACE) transportation committee? Wildflowers? Wonderful. Destroying probably the only near-pristine gorge on a U.S. highway in the state is an abomination.

That ravine, thus far destroyed, was habitat to a lot of creatures. Was there an environmental impact statement? Is largely denuding the southern hillside necessary? Already one can see the heavy rains we hope for washing the silt into Leatherwood Creek and then into the lake, which is already silted. A bridge 50 feet above the creek?

Should be a good view of the gravel mining operation. Any ACE plans to restore the creek from ugly? From 50 feet up, the off-ramps to the soccer field should be exciting.

Will we have our first stop-light, turn lanes? I can see the Harleys piling up now.

The parties that planned, profited from or otherwise contributed to this rape of a beautiful gorge, which inspired tourists to drive as if it was the Blue Ridge Parkway, can all go to hell in my book.

Bill Shaw