When word was received of Judith Shaw’s death on Dec. 25, 2012, Pittsburg State University’s Facebook page lit up. The long-time history professor’s former students recalled how much they enjoyed her classes, how impressed they were with her knowledge and how well she told stories.
Most comments were similar to this, from former student Ron Rice:
“I have great memories of her classes,” Rice wrote. “I loved how she would come into the room, set her purse and coffee down and then sit on the desk and just start talking. I will miss her, and will try to pass on her style of teaching with my own as I teach in Alaska.”
Cathleen Garrison, remembered that Shaw almost never read from prepared notes.
“From Cleopatra to the British Empire, she told us her stories and we listened like children hearing a great bedtime story,” Garrison wrote.
Shaw joined the PSU faculty in 1959 and over the next half century developed a reputation both as an expert in her field and as a master storyteller. Her area of research included British and French history, local history and women’s history in the 19th and 20th centuries.
A graduate of Western Kentucky State University, Shaw earned a master’s degree from the University of Kentucky and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris as a Fulbright Scholar.
In 2009, at a ceremony honoring her for 50 years of service to PSU, colleague John Daley estimated Shaw had taught more than 10,000 students.
“Some of our current students have grandparents who took courses from Judy and still ask after her,” Daley said.
In February, friends, colleagues, former students and family attended a memorial for Judith Shaw in McCray Hall.