He loved the town.
It’s really as simple as that when talking about the imprint left behind by Ted Shaw.
From its down-home, Mayberry-like 4th of July Parade, to its concerts in the park, to a car show featuring the classics, to its float entry in the Tournament of Roses Parade, Shaw, who played a big hand in all of them, felt immense pride.
He seemed to have a pulse on the city’s heartbeat, reaching out to residents with congratulatory calls, extending warm thoughts after hearing of someone’s accomplishments, Shaw, who passed away on Saturday, was upbeat, thoughtful, jovial, always putting South Pasadena first, knowing it is and always will be a special place.
Shaw was that central figure who everyone seemed to know, and if you didn’t it probably wasn’t long before living in town you at least heard the name.
As a lifelong resident, he was a mover and shaker, making a difference during his mayoral role in the early 1980’s when he joined a group of likeminded individuals in launching the city’s Festival of Balloons, centered around a parade fireworks show.
Often calling it “corny,” recognizing it was far from the famous Rose Parade to the north, Ted knew far better than most the 4th of July parade was a huge part of the city’s charm. Joined by realtor Lin Vlacich, the two, what seemed like forever, announced the entries passing on Mission Street, giving a wave, shout out and praise to hundreds of participating organizations and individuals over the years.
It was much the same when he came up with the Cruz’n For Roses Hot Rod and Classic Car Show, which celebrated its 15th anniversary last September.
Dollars from the event, involving about 250 vehicles up and down Mission Street, annually help pay for the city’s entry in the Rose Parade.
His support was shown on countless endeavors, maybe no stronger than when he placed his company name – Shaw, Moses, Mendenhall Insurance & Associates Insurance Agency – on the Sunday afternoon concerts at Garfield Park as the main sponsor.
When it came to fundraising, there was no equal to Shaw. Perhaps his greatest gift was making others feel good about giving back to the town. He would get on the phone and in a single afternoon, after dozens of calls, with that booming, hearty hello, good-natured ribbing and a bit of sarcasm thrown in, sell most of the tables in the room or gather many of the silent and live auction items for functions at Holy Family Church, a city events, or most notably the Crunch Time Party that supported so heavily the city’s float.
One of his other ideas was the Ultimate Tournament of Roses Experience drawing, in which Shaw figured if he was able to get 200 people in the community to purchase a raffle ticket for $100 with great value, like 50-yardline seats to the Rose Bowl Game, Rose Parade grand stand seats to the runner-up or $300 in cash for third place, he could raise $20,000 in no time to help pay for flowers and other costs associated with the float entry. And he made it happen with regularity.
A graduate of St. Francis in La Cañada and a proud Trojan from USC, Shaw went on to build a successful insurance company that has been kept in the family and continues to give back to the community, spearheaded by his wife Joan, son-in-law Mark and daughters Sandy and Janet.
Shaw always put family first, above all, often sharing behind closed doors how much his wife and children meant to him as he talked about his faith, and deep commitment to Holy Family Church.
We had those talks when I was given the opportunity to know him best after he, the late Michael Colliau and I owned the South Pasadena Review over a four-year stretch until its sale in 2017. It was in those moments that we were committed in providing South Pasadena with the best in community journalism.
In between the occasional verbal sparring regarding its content, nothing ever got in the way of our goal and ambition of wanting to make it a top-notch weekly newspaper. I’ll miss his insight, story ideas, the laughter, tongue-in-cheek sarcasm and support as I grew to know him during our brief ownership and my nearly 25 years of reporting news in the city.
When you think about South Pasadena, it’s hard not to think about Ted Shaw and all that’s he’s given back to a town he truly, truly loved.
It’s a tremendous loss and one that will be difficult to overcome. Fortunately, in his wake are many he’s touched who will pick up where he left off, dedicated to continuing what Shaw was instrumental in launching – the 4th of July Parade, the fireworks show, the importance of the city’s float in the Rose Parade, the popular summer concerts and all the rest.
Oh my, what a legacy he left. His admiration is being felt by so many paying tribute to a man who was a devout Dodger and Trojan faithful, highly respected, and loyal to his community. He leaves an indelible mark on a city that meant so much to him.
Goodbye Mr. Shaw – “Mr. South Pasadena.” You will be missed.