On Tuesday Oct 29, Bill Shaw, fellow GPPSD teacher, administrator, friend to many and recent retiree passed away after a hard fought, three year battle with cancer. Bill enjoyed a short remission, only to have the cancer return this past winter. It was at this time he made the difficult decision to cease treatment and live the remainder of his life surrounded by close friends, his beloved dogs Monti and Higgins, his spectacular garden oasis, tastefully decorated home and fabulous shoe collection.
Bill was a passionate, skilled educator who began his teaching career over 30 years ago in Rycroft Alberta. He eventually found his way to the GPPSD after being hired by John Scheopp and Faye McConnel at Crystal Park. While there he taught as part of the GLRR program where he established the Classy Diner which is still an integral part of the school culture today. Early in his career he received the “Teacher of the Year” award from the ATA Specialist council, which was presented in Edmonton.
He was also an administrator at the former Young Offenders Centre, taught junior high at Derek Taylor and worked at Hillside as part of the SBEAD Program. Bill also worked at The Composite High with adolescent boys to aid them in developing anger management skills. He also spent time at Central Office working in the High School Credit recovery program. He retired last June from Bridge Network after teaching junior high students for the past several years.
Bill’s vast educational experiences and skills eventually took him to The Grande Prairie Regional College where he was employed as an instructor in the TEN, Teacher Education North Program. One of his former students in the program, Britta Kristine stated, “I had the privilege of working with him years later and watched him work his magic with one of my challenging students”. She also shared, “I learned so much from him”.
Bill was also a professional ballroom dancer and used his formal training and love of dance to teach several classes in the community with the proceeds going to charity. He taught his dance classes with the same enthusiasm, humor and panache that he lived by daily. He also served as a choreographer in several local musical theatre performances and charity fashion shows, as well as a choreographer and coach with the Grande Prairie Figure Skating Club.
Bill was generous to a fault, giving of himself often to the detriment of his own health and wellbeing. His kindness, generosity and words of encouragement were genuine and experienced often by fellow district employees and friends. He would never dream of showing up to your home empty handed. I recall one of his last visits to my home when he arrived with a basket consisting of several bottles of wine, artisan breads and savory cheeses. It was a fantastic evening filled with lots of reminiscing, laughs and of course, salacious gossip.
Bill was sincerely grateful for all the kindness shown by friends who came to visit him or called during his brief stay at Prairie Lakes Hospice. He often commented how caring and professional the staff at the hospice were and how he appreciated being there. He enjoyed the food at the hospice and enjoyed watching the geese and ducks on the pond from his window.
Bill expressed emphatically that he did not want a funeral service as he stated, “I can’t stand the thought of all those women weeping on my behalf”, such a Bill comment. There will be a viewing at Bear Creek Funeral home on Thursday Oct 31, from 5-7, Halloween day. The date is fitting as those that knew him would admit that he had a flair for the dramatic.
Bill was so much more than a teacher. His kindness, generosity, humor, and impeccable good taste, coupled with his over the top personality will be profoundly missed by so many of his co-workers, friends, and acquaintances. He will also be missed by his loving sister, Judy of Victoria, British Columbia as well as her husband, Tim and their sons, Scott and Nick, who Bill spoke of fondly.
Rest Well Mr. Shaw.
In Lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alberta Hospice Palliative Care Association, 1245 70 Avenue, Calgary, AB T2H 2X8
Care entrusted to Bear Creek Funeral Home 780 830 7742