CELEBRATING THE LIFE OF ALLEN EDWARD SHAW Allen Edward Shaw, a wonderful father, business and community leader and member of the Greatest Generation ascended to the heavenly gates from his home on Memorial Day. With family members at his side, Allen comforted them by saying he would see them all again in 50 years. Beloved son of Edward Allen and Jessica Angelina Shaw of Los Angeles, CA and Kingman, AZ, Allen was born on October 1, 1917 the oldest of 5 children Mary, Alice, James and Billie. Allen had fond memories of hot Arizona nights listening to his parents sitting on the front porch laughing about the day's events. During the depression, Allen worked at the new Douglas Aircraft company in Long Beach and Santa Monica, CA where his love of aviation grew. During WWII, Allen's sisters became "Rosie the Riveter", his brother James became a P38 Lightening Pilot serving in the Pacific, and Allen became a Tech Rep and Master Mechanic fixing anything Douglas Aircraft built. With a rank of Captain of the US Army AirCorp, Allen served with the British in North Africa a year before Pearl Harbor. After America entered the war, Allen was deployed to Alaska ferrying planes to Russia then to Australia and New Guinea with the Third Attack Group "The Grim Reapers" to hold off the Japanese offensive. It was there that Allen broke his back and returned to LA, California in a full body cast on the hospital ship "Comfort". His prognosis was that he could never walk again. However, Allen was not a good patient. Nurses constantly found him destroying his cast or flat on the floor in a failed attempt to walk. His brother James sprung him from the hospital and took him to the town of Crestline near Big Bear, CA where he started a new recovery program of physical labor and hard work to regain his strength and mobility. The shovel, wheelbarrow, tape measure and moving earth would become his life long trademarks. Separated from his siblings during the Depression and the War, Allen was now reunited with them, including his half-brother Richard and half-sister Elizabeth. They began to meet weekly at the Hollywood Park Horse Racing Track. Following in his father's footsteps, Allen became a stockbroker in LA. It was while he was in LA that Allen became captivated with a young United Airlines ticket agent named Betty Skaggs. They married August 27, 1949 and had four children Douglas, Brad, Sandra and Christine. But that wasn't enough for Allen; when he heard about a fledging hospital company that had built the nation's first dental hospital and was now on the brink of bankruptcy, Allen entered the world of constructing and running hospitals. He built and managed Fullerton Community Hospital, Sunset Boulevard Hospital LA, Esperanza Intercommunity Hospital in Yorba Linda, Circle City Hospital in Corona, Sutter Towers Hospital in San Francisco culminating with Mad River Community Hospital (MRCH) in the beautiful ocean-side community of Arcata. The history of how MRCH came to existence is local lore. In the summer of 1968, Allen heard about a small community in northern California that wanted its own hospital and he flew to Arcata from San Francisco on what he thought was a private reconnaissance visit to research the area and its healthcare needs. Imagine his surprise when the taxi driver who picked him up at the Arcata-Eureka airport unexpectedly pronounced that "you're the one who is going to build us a hospital"! Imagine Allen's further surprise when the Arcata citizens called a town meeting that very night for a question and answer exploration of whether Allen could build a hospital for their community. Allen was subsequently introduced to the Trinity Hospital Action Committee which had formed in response to the St. Joseph Hospital decision to close its Trinity Hospital located near HSU in Arcata. In a whirlwind of activity, Allen created a partnership to purchase Trinity Hospital in 1969 while permission was sought to build a new modern Hospital in a different part of Arcata. It only took 3 years for Allen and the community to purchase the land, design the plans, secure the private financing and hospital permits, and complete construction. The current Mad River Community Hospital opened days after Allen's birthday on October 22, 1972 and became the last monument to Allen's tenacity of vision in providing hospital care where love and devotion are put into action everyday. During the 42 years following MRCH's construction, Allen established his home in our community and for his last few years was well served by MRCH's Home Health and ER departments. Our deepest appreciation and gratitude is extended to Humboldt Caregivers as well as all the nurses and physicians who work at Mad River Community Hospital and Allen's personal physician, Dr. Lawrence Senffner, who was not only amazingly devoted to Allen's health and well-being but also a true and trusted friend. We would be honored if you join us for a Celebration of Allen's Life on Saturday, June 14th at 11am by the Adult Day Health Care of Mad River building located at the back of the Mad River Community Hospital campus in Arcata, CA. If you plan to attend, it would be helpful if you could please call Cynthia at 707.826.8201 so we can determine potential numbers of attendees. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Allen's memory to the nonprofit organization of Adult Day Health Care of Mad River. Please sign the guestbook at www.times-standard.com and click on obituaries.
Published in Eureka Times-Standard from June 11 to June 13, 2014