Shaw Nicholas Gynan
May 29, 1954 - October 28, 2020
Bellingham, Washington - After a long illness Dr. Shaw Gynan, emeritus professor at Western Washington University, succumbed to cancer on October 28, 2020 at the age of 66. He is survived by his husband Jeffrey Paster of Bellingham, mother Elizabeth Farfard in Brooks, ME, sister Stephanie Caverno and nephew Shawn Herlihy in East Hampstead, NH and adopted son Ernesto Lopez of Paraguay. He is predeceased by his beloved niece Catherine E. McDonough in Kittery, ME.
Dr. Gynan was born in Rockland, Maine on May 29, 1954. He earned an AA from Bradford College, Havervill, Mass.1974, BA from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.1976, MA from the University of Texas at El Paso 1978 and a PhD from the University of Texas in Austin, 1983 in Ibero-Romance Philology and Linguistics. After serving three years as Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico, Dr. Gynan joined the faculty of WWU in 1986 and retired as Professor Emeritus in Linguistics and Spanish in 2018. Dr. Gynan was fluent in five languages and taught courses in linguistics, phonetics, Spanish language and foreign language methodology. He often taught graduate courses in the summer in Mexico and Paraguay. He was an outstanding teacher and researcher with awards in both areas. His academic accomplishments include authoring several books and dozens of articles written in English, Spanish and Guareni in the areas of Spanish, language acquisition, bilingualism, foreign language methodology, linguistics, phonetics and sociolinguistics. He presented academic papers at scores of professional regional, national and international conferences.
Dr. Gynan has been considered a leading authority by the Ministry of Education in Paraguay for his work in preserving indigenous languages and his contributions to bilingual education. He has been heralded by leaders in education for his contribution to the advancement of education and for conducting scores of workshops in the methodology of language teaching to foster the regeneration of the indigenous languages of Paraguay. Many of his language workshops were given in remote villages in the jungles of Paraguay. Dr. Gynan was the recipient of two Fulbright fellowships for the advancement of his international work and received numerous governmental grants by the Ministry of Education in Paraguay. He was further distinguished in being appointed as their expert foreign consultant in bilingualism. The majority of his summers and leaves from WWU in the last 20 years were spent in Paraguay doing research, giving educational workshops and presenting numerous professional papers to teachers and language officials.
Dr. Gynan continued his research in his retirement and just last month completed a quadralingual dictionary in English, Spanish, Guarani and Guana with an accompanying foreign language methodology book written entirely in Guarani. These works were commissioned by the Ministry of Education in Paraguay and are now pending publication.
Dr. Gynan will be dearly missed by his family, colleagues and his many friends. His contributions to the advancement of language preservation in Paraguay has been among his most significant. The potential of his future contributions to education will be sorely missed.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Modern Languages Department at WWU and Whatcom Hospice House in Bellingham.
Published in Bellingham Herald on Nov. 8, 2020.