Always the gentleman and forever the peacemaker, John J. Shea, Sr. will live forever in the hearts of his family and his extended family of students and friends. He will be remembered for his kind and gentle ways as art supervisor for Arms Academy High School and later the Mohawk School District where he worked until 1981. He was hired in 1947, before the schools were regionalized, and taught in one- and two-room school houses in Buckland, Shelburne, and Colrain. At public events he was frequently asked, ""Remember me? You were my art teacher.""
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John (Jack) Joseph Shea Sr., 94, died March 8, 2013. He was born December 7, 1918 to Mary (Sullivan) and John A. Shea. He was raised in Beverly, MA with his three brothers Paul, James, and William. He attended St. Mary's Catholic School, Beverly High School, Vesper George School of Art, Boston University, University of Massachusetts, and Greenfield Community College.
In 1947, he married Marilyn Sharkey. The couple then moved from Boston to make their home in Shelburne Falls. Quite an adjustment for two city folk! In 1963, they purchased their home on Water St. and established a seasonal gift shop at the entrance to the Bridge of Flowers.
Jack spent 37 years enjoying and serving the community and tourists at the gift shop. The shop also served as a training ground for his children and grandchildren. Granddaughter Heather carried her experience to Martha's Vineyard, where she started her own shop.
For more than 40 years, Jack enjoyed serving his community as a part-time on-call police officer who served under several chiefs. He was also an elected town constable. At age 93, he was the attending constable at the Shelburne voting booths. To help support his family, Jack would take all of the extra traffic details assigned to him, despite the challenging weather. He was very proud of, and loyal to, his involvement with town police work.
Jack simply loved being with people and especially loved children. His own children fondly recall camping, fishing, sledding, and skiing with their Dad. They were his top priority. He could be found at all of their high school sporting and cultural events. In their adult years, all the siblings ventured off to Alaska to visit their sister Mary Ellen, who led them on many memorable adventures in the Alaskan wilderness. Jack accompanied his children on these trips and didn't miss a beat.
Grandpa Shea was an imaginative and influential role model to his grandchildren. He was delighted by his grandson Clayton's starring roles in high school theater productions. And grandchildren Simon and Molly Taylor, inspired by their grandfather, chose careers in education and the arts, respectively.
Between his various jobs, he found time to help his sons, Patrick and Jack, and daughter Suzanne, build and renovate their homes. He hauled in cords of firewood and cared for a variety of animals when they were out of town. During maple sugaring season he could be found daily at Jack Jr.'s Bear River Sugarhouse, working with grandchildren Kate, Greg, Heather, and Emily, producing maple syrup.
Jack continued to share his love for children by spending time with his four great grandchildren. His daily routine included walking or driving to visit his great granddaughter Scarlott.
Besides his wife of 64 years, he is survived by three sons; John and wife Christie (Shippee) of Ashfield, Mark of Pelham, Patrick and wife Susan (Wheeler) of Shelburne Falls; one daughter Suzanne Taylor and husband Richard of Ashfield; seven grandchildren Kate (& Rob) Kellogg, Gregory Shea, Heather (& Joshua) Kochin, Emily (& Daniel) Adamson, Simon (& Celia Lee) Taylor, Clayton Shea, and Molly Taylor; and four great-grandchildren Milan Kellogg, Beckett Kochin, Scarlott Shea, and Levi Jack Kochin.
Daughter Mary Ellen Shea (wife of Jimmy Jackson) pre-deceased John in 2006.
A Liturgy of Christian Burial will be held Friday, March 15, at 10 am at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Shelburne Falls with Rev. Tony Cullen, pastor, officiating.
Burial will follow in Arms Cemetery. There are no calling hours.
The Shea family invites the public to a Celebration of Life for Jack on Friday at the Shelburne Community Center, Church St., Shelburne Falls starting at 11:30 AM until 1:30 PM.
Messages of condolence may be left at Smith Kelleher Funeral Home. www.smithkelleherfuneralhome.com.
Donations may be made to the Mary Lyon foundation for the John Shea Memorial Art Scholarship, PO Box 180, 75 Mechanic St., Shelburne Falls, MA 01370.
Published in The Recorder on Mar. 11, 2013