GERALD HARRIS SHINN

Obituary
21 entries
  • "I will always remember Dr. Shinn with fondness and..."
    - Martha McIntosh
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    - Kelsey Beck
  • "Adored by all the girl campers at Camp Don Lee. Taught us..."
    - Phalbe Henriksen
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    - Robert Berg ’70 & ‘84
  • "Dr. Shinn taught me how to enjoy learning forty years ago...."
    - Jere Bradford
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GERALD HARRIS SHINN

DECEMBER 4, 1934-JANUARY 26, 2013

Dr. Shinn, known to many as "Jerry", passed away on January 26th in Albemarle, North Carolina. Dr. Shinn was an enthusiastic educator who believed in instilling a life-long passion for learning in the "young'uns" that were his students, both on and off the campus of UNCW. He felt it essential to give his students an alternative to the passive reception of information, whether through sending them to read "primary sources" since he was "not in the tellin' business", flipping a desk and blowing a conch horn to illustrate the Israelites' attack on Jericho, or having his students draw chalk Vin diagrams on sidewalks to better understand the principles of logic. Dr. Shinn grew up in western North Carolina, the son of the late Fred and Autie Shinn. He attended Duke University where he studied abroad in Germany and received a doctorate in medieval church history. He earned his way through college by working in the dining hall at Duke and serving as Camp Don Lee's first waterfront director. He, along with fellow sailors, worked to begin the sailing program at Don Lee, which to date has taught generations of campers respect for nature, the value of teamwork and a means to deepen their relationship with God. Dr. Shinn began his professorial career at Louisburg College before coming to teach at UNCW in 1967. Dr. Shinn served as a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at UNCW for 27 years. In addition to inspiring a love for learning and thinking in his classroom, Dr. Shinn initiated a multitude of programs designed to expose students to the world at large. In conjunction with Tel-Aviv University, Dr. Shinn led students on archaeological digs in Israel. He began the Albert Schweitzer International Prizes, which brought internationally renowned musicians, physicians and humanitarians to the UNCW campus, two of whom (Mother Teresa and Dr. George Hutchings) would later receive Nobel Prizes. The Schweitzer Prizes went on to become the Albert Schweitzer Honors Scholars program. To allow students to draw inspiration from talented artisans, he began the North Carolina Living Treasure Award and the National Living Treasure Award. Dr. Shinn was awarded the O. Max Gardner Award in 1994 by the UNC Board of Governors for contributions to the "welfare of the human race". In 2001, Shinn Plaza, located on the campus of UNCW adjacent to the International and Honors residence halls, was dedicated in Dr. Shinn's honor. In his retirement years, he used his vast knowledge of North Carolina history as a passionate supporter of the NC Maritime Museum at Southport and was instrumental in their becoming an essential part of North Carolina's cultural resources. Dr. Shinn is survived by his daughter, Ruth Heath and son-in-law, Charles Heath, along with grandchildren, Eleanor and Noah. Memorials will be held at Green Memorial UMC in Norwood and on the campus of UNCW at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the following: Gerald Shinn UNCW Alumni Association Merit Scholarship, c/o Office of University Advancement, UNCW, 601 College Rd, Wilmington, NC, 28403 or to the Camp Don Lee summer camp scholarship fund, Camp Don Lee, 315 Camp Don Lee Road, Arapahoe, NC, 28510.

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Published in the Wilmington Star-News from Jan. 31 to Feb. 1, 2013