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Mary Shaw


1920 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Mary Shaw Obituary
Mary Morse Shaw

Sep 5, 1920- Apr 10, 2018


MARY MORSE Shaw, a world traveler and bon vivant who always enjoyed good company and a challenging game of bridge or backgammon, and whose life spanned the entire history of one of this country's most successful golf and real estate developments, died at her home in Pebble Beach Tues-day morning. The youngest daughter and last surviving offspring of Pebble Beach Co.founder Sam Morse, she was 97.

Even the circumstances of Mary Shaw's infancy hinted at the life she would lead: She was born in San Francisco on Sept. 5, 1920, and spent her first year in an apartment at the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill. She was Sam Morse's fourth child, and his only with Relda Ford Morse, whom he married in 1919, the same year he founded Del Monte Properties and opened the Pebble Beach Golf Links — projects which became fabulously successful and world famous.
Mary Shaw's childhood coincided with her father's burgeoning success. At first, his office was in San Francisco, which meant the young family only spent summers in Pebble Beach, living in the cottage that's now the Pebble Beach Market. When she was 6, they moved here full time, into an environment full of celebrities, parties and golf.
Despite — or, perhaps, because of — all that stimulation, she was a very shy teenager, and her mother had to talk her into going to Stanford for college. But she conquered her fears and went.
Prior to her graduation in 1942, she spent a summer in Hawaii with some of the Kennedys, and then returned to compete in the National Women's Amateur Golf Championship at Pebble Beach, where she made it to the quarterfinals.
After college, she worked in the press bureau at the Hotel del Monte, which by then was busy with military officers as the United States entered World War II following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Even during the war, the Monterey Peninsula and her father's hotels and golf courses were popular as retreats for the fashionable and famous, and she had innumerable encounters with them. Errol Flynn and Ann Sheridan stayed at the Hotel del Monte in the summer of 1942 while filming "Edge of Darkness," and following dinner one night, Flynn — who had taught her bawdy British songs and introduced her to gin and tonics — asked for a kiss goodnight. She acquiesced, and he subsequently declared, "My God, I do believe you're a virgin!" She always wondered how he knew.
Others she encountered included Herbert Hoover, William Powell, Clark Gable, Lana Turner, Jean Harlow, Jack Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Dina Shore, Joan Fontaine, Hewlett and Packard, David Rockefeller, Sir Anthony Eden, and Ansel Adams. Salvador Dali enjoyed conversations with her while he pretended he couldn't speak English, as she was fluent in French.

In 1943, Mary Shaw decided to go to New York City (where she stayed for free at the Savoy Hotel, on arrangements made by her father) and find a job. After a brief stint modeling clothes in a fancy dress shop, she went to work at the Ladies Home Journal. She said she had always aspired to be a journalist.
Her career was cut short, however, when she fell in love with U.S. Navy man Richard Osborne, who proposed soon after. They married in New York in June 1943 and went west as he received orders for Long Beach, and later, Oregon. Their first child, Susan, was born in Carmel, and was soon followed by Charley. Later, Richard managed the Monterey Peninsula Country Club, where they lived in a house on the 3rd Hole, and daughter Polly was born. By the time their youngest, Ellen, came around, they occupied the house that is now Casa Palmero Spa. They bought it partially furnished for $50,000. She and Osborne parted ways in the mid-1960s, and in 1966, she underwent surgery for melanoma. While her surgeons were gloomy, she recalled, her obstetrician told her, "With your attitude, I know everything will be fine!" And it was.
She had known architect Will Shaw for several years by the time they married in 1967. He won the Prix de Rome, and his work is well known around the Monterey Peninsula, but his best design, she always felt, was the home he created for the two of them on six acres on Pfeiffer Point in Big Sur that she'd purchased from a Hollywood producer for $30,000.
The home wasn't built until after they spent a year traveling through Europe while he was at the American Academy in Rome. He scribbled his first ideas for the house on the back of a concert program there, and underneath it had written, "Love is a shell." It was always her favorite house.
Over the decades, they traveled all over the world by ship, yacht, and even the Orient Express and "a shabby Russian plane with broken seat belts," she recalled. Jerusalem was "one of the most fascinating cities in the world," she said. But through it all, her favorite place was Pebble Beach.
In 1995, Will developed a progressive brain ailment, and she cared for him until he died in July 1997. Endowed with a great affection for men, she then devoted her love to longtime friend Dick Tevis, whom she had known since childhood, and she stuck with him until he died in 2010.

Although she grew up in a time when women usually didn't have careers — supporting husbands and raising children instead— Mary Shaw had wide-ranging interests. She was a longtime supporter of the SPCA and was heavily involved in its fundraising efforts.
For many years, she was also Hotelling's go-to source for insights into the history, the development, and even the wildlife, of Pebble Beach.
Mary Shaw also always loved a good party, and hosted great gatherings for friends and family up until the end, the last being the family's traditional black-tie Christmas Eve dinner in 2017. Her favorite food was Iranian golden caviar accompanied by extremely cold vodka or a martini.
"She was definitely an aristocrat, but not a snob. She had all kinds of friends, from royalty, to painters and poets," her oldest daughter, Susan Osborne, said this week. "If you were amusing, you'd be invited back. She was a great hostess and always ready to have a good time."
In her later years, living in the house daughter and architect Polly Osborne designed for her in the Macomber Estates area of Pebble Beach, she faced the prospect of aging and dying with her characteristic grace, matter-of-factness, and humor. On Good Friday in 2016, at the age of 95, she wrote a requiem for herself.

Mary Shaw,
She died at Easter; Mary was always quite a feaster;
She had once considered Thanksgiving, but turkey is better for the living;
Christmas Eve is fine for dining,and it's also good for wining;
New Year's Eve for fun and dancing, and for your resolutions enhancing;
So Easter Sunday is the day I think that I will go away;
Maybe I'll change my mind tomorrow; Don't want to spoil your day with sorrow.

On the following Monday, she simply noted, "Still here."
Two years later, she died nine days after Easter.
Shaw is survived by four children, Susan Morse Osborne, Charles Devens Osborne, Mary Lithgow (Polly) Osborne and Ellen Osborne, seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and numerous other family members.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on May 12, 2018
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