Testimonials Roll in for Ted Shaw | A Legacy that Touched Many

Community members share their thoughts on Ted Shaw, who gave so much to the city he loved over 75 years before his passing last Saturday morning

PHOTO: James Jontz | SouthPasadenan.com News | Local legend and entrepreneur, Ted Shaw at the SPTOR Annual Golf Tournament

High praise, testimonials and tributes continue to role in as the community remembers Ted Shaw, a three-time city mayor, successful businessman, town supporter and family man, who passed away at age 75 last Saturday.

Among his accomplishment as outlined in Jane Apostol’s book “South Pasadena,”:

  • In 1988, Ted and his wife Joan received the Distinguished Citizen Award.
  • In 2008, the Review selected Ted and Joan as Citizens of the Year. On Independence Day, they rode along the route of the Fourth of July parade (Festival of Balloons) they helped launch in 1982 (“The Fourth of July Extravaganza”).
  • Mr. Shaw served as South Pasadena mayor three times: 1979-80; 1982-83 and 1984-5.
  • The Fourth of July Extravaganza was proposed by Ted Shaw, Joan Shaw and city councilman David Margrave. Apostol wrote that “It may well have been the best Fourth of July celebration since1912, when four thousand people swarmed to Garfield Park for a free barbecue…In 1982, a good part of the town marched in the Fourth of July Parade, picnicked at Garfield Park, and watched fireworks at the high school athletic field. The crowd also enjoyed the music of a jazz band (led by School Superintendent Tom Brierley), watched a demonstration by a new member of the police department (Belker of the K-9 Cops) and cheered members of the city council and the school board, who engaged in a vigorous new sport (trying to propel a suspended barrel by water shot from fire hoses).”

Ted Shaw was instrumental in all those areas and a lot more. In addition to Apostal’s findings, Shaw, a lifelong resident, was highly active in the success of South Pasadena’s float in the annual Rose Parade Rose Parade, especially for his ability to lift the phone and sell tickets to functions like the Crunch Time Party, a year-end dinner, silent and live auction that raise much-needed funds in support of the city entry.

- Advertisement -

It was a result of Shaw’s efforts that the Cruz’n for Roses Hot Rod and Classic Car Show, another key fundraiser for the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Committee, began 15 years ago and to this day is a popular attraction each January, drawing thousands to Mission Street. In recent years, the event has successfully been handed off to Shaw’s daughter, Janet Benjamin, who along with a solid group of volunteers, have maintained its excellence.

He was also big donor, spearheading the effort behind the concerts in the park series over many summers in Garfield Park. He was a regular contributor and huge supporter to a wide variety of organizations, from service organizations Kiwanis and Rotary, Holy Family Church, and local schools, especially the South Pasadena Educational Foundation, in which he and Joan were regular attendees of Parti Gras, the organization’s annual major fundraiser in the spring.

In recent days since Shaw’s passing, his memory have been captured by some in and out of the community. The following are comments by some of them:

Dan Watson

I met Ted when I first came to South Pasadena as Police Chief in 2002. He was one of the first people to reach out and offer support in any way. For the more than eight years that I served as Chief and as a member of the South Pasadena Rotary Club, Ted was always there. He was the most civic-minded people I’ve ever known. He not only supported worth South Pasadena project financially, but he was the first to step in and take a leadership role.

If Ted was involved, it got done, and done well! One example was the Classic Car Show. He was instrumental in creating the fund raiser for the Tournament of Roses float. At the same time, the Police Department brought back the Open House.  Both were held in September and were successful. After that first year I suggested that we hold them on the same day and Ted immediately agreed. That resulted in both community events becoming even more popular. 

Ted also was the inspiration for the Festival of Balloons Fourth of July parade. He emceed it for many years. He knew everyone in the parade and had something to say about all the participants as they passed City Hall.

When Rotary decided to honor Ted as their first “Service Above Self” awardee, I met Ted for breakfast to get some history. After multiple cups of coffee, I told him several hours later I was late for a lunch meeting and had to go. Ted’s history of service was never ending and his awards dinner was the most successful with friends and family traveling from as far away as the East Coast to see Ted honored and support our fundraising efforts.

I’ll never forget Ted. He was a fine businessman, great family man and good friend.

Kathryn Watson

Ted will be so missed…he was a beloved icon in SoPas. Love and hugs to Joan and the Shaw family. May his memory always be a blessing in all of our lives.

Christopher Moore 

Ted was a man beyond compare, larger than life and a friend to everyone he met. He truly will be missed.

Scott Ziegler

Ted Shaw, the man, the myth, the legend. He love this city almost as much as he loved his family. He worked tirelessly to make South Pasadena “Ozzie and Harriet ” land. A place everyone could feel like they were family, protected, loved and safe. He was the best son, husband, father, father – in- law, grandfather, great grandfather and friend anyone could ever ask for. From the time I met him at age 19, he has guided my steps through life and I will always be grateful for the time I had with him. Love you Ted Shaw. Until we meet again.

Rob Williams 

I met Ted shortly after we moved to South Pasadena in 1995. We were introduced to him by his sister Julie, and we were immediately caught up in his love and loyalty to the city of South Pasadena. His devotion to South Pasadena was only exceeded by the devotion to Joan and the rest of his family. Because of Ted, we have been involved in the SPTOR and all its activities, and the Festival of Balloons. I couldn’t possibly list all of the parts of South Pasadena that were made better by his involvement. He was a great mentor and a true friend. My family and I will miss him terribly.

Kathleen Ashby

So sorry to hear about Ted, but Heaven is a good place. He’s there with Kobe and too many others. Almost too much sadness lately to handle.

Sean Joyce

Ted definitely left an indelible mark on the town he loved.

Mark Langill

Ted combined ‘Small Town U.S.A. “ civic pride with big league dreams, along the way blending his love of family, patriotism, pagantry and the ability to work with all groups for the common god of our city. I once asked Ted his philosophy about local government and his reply continues to inspire. “Take care of the youth and our senior citizens,” he said. “The ones in the middle should be able to take care of themselves.”

Alisa Diez

My deep condolences to the entire Shaw family. I had the honor of working for Ted for three years and he was one of the kindest, most compassionate bosses I’ve ever had and he had the best South Pas stories! God speed Mr. Shaw.

Joe Payne

I am honored to have known Ted Shaw and his family for 40 years. His city leadership as a mayor and councilman, founder of the Festival of Balloons and tireless support and philanthropy for the Tournament of Roses and Holy Family Church will remain unmatched. Ted will be sadly missed. RIP, my friend.

John Vandercook

Ted’s generosity to South Pasadena and to each of us was unmeasurable.

Harry Gerst 

That really is a big loss to our city!

Sean Fox

One of a kind. He will be missed but never forgotten.

Thomas Field

My first personal introduction to Ted was when, as a newly ensconced board member of the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, I sat downwind of the chairmanship he occupied. It was a role he clearly understood, and relished. He was a role model of civic pride and commitment that would be illuminated again and again over the years…in his philanthropy, his enthusiasm, and his courage…even in the face of increasing physical challenges. Ted was truly a ‘hometown hero.’”

Odom Stamps

Ted Shaw was a hometown boy made good, and first and foremost a booster of South Pasadena Civic Life – our own version of a PT Barnum. He was a business man and investor, a councilman and mayor, and a prolific fund raiser.

He was a co-founder Shaw Moses Mendenhall Agency, a large regional Insurance Brokerage, and helped assemble properties with partners in town that led to the development of many of the newer commercial buildings along Fair Oaks. He helped start the 4th of July Festival of Balloons, and acted as the Master of Ceremonies, describing each float and group in review, as they passed City Hall.

He presided over the Centennial Celebration of the Town’s founding in 1888, escorting Zsa Zsa Gabor down the red carpet at the Rialto Theater Grand Reopening under sky sweeping searchlights. Later that year he rode a Buggy in an ostrich race in remembrance of the turn of the century Cawston Ostrich Farm.

For the past 40 years he helped keep the funds flowing for our self built Rose Bowl Parade Float, and made the South Pas Relay for Life a huge success for over a decade, helping to raise several  hundreds of thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Society, in the process.

I first came to know him as a fellow candidate in the 2002 City Council race, and later as an advisor and friend. We worked together to create a design for a TOR float barn and  restoration of Oaklawn Park designed by Isabelle Greene, near the park and bridge originally designed by her Grandfather and Great Uncle (Greene & Greene).

Recently Ted told me that he had enough committed donations to get it accomplished. All in all a pretty impressive guy!

Mark Gallatin President, South Pasadena Preservation Foundation; Chair, Cultural Heritage Commission

The South Pasadena Preservation Foundation mourns the passing of community leader Ted Shaw. Mr. Shaw was a longtime supporter of the Foundation and he and his wife generously donated their collection of Cawston Ostrich Farm memorabilia to the museum. His monumental record of public service benefitted all members of the South Pasadena community and will endure as his lasting legacy.



  1. Ted Shaw’s legacy has a significant impact to many South Pasadena residents. He inspired the youth, including my son, Sam, from when he was a student at UC Santa Barbara, to eventually working for our city as a Management Analyst in transportation. When I chaired the American Cancer Society Relay for Life (a 24-hour fundraising event) in 2006 and 2007, Ted, his whole family and his insurance company, were always there to help and he donated generously. In 2006 we raised about $125,000 and in 2007 we raised about $165,000 for ACS Relay for Life during this 24-hour event. I worked with Ted volunteering for the initial UUT (Users Utility Tax measure) ad hoc committee, and to this day the passage of UUT continues to augment our city’s revenues. The July 4th Festival of Balloons will constantly remind us that Ted started this patriotic and fun tradition. Ted was a monumental force in our annual South Pasadena Tournament of Roses, making sure that we enjoy the “Cruzing for Roses” (a roadshow of classic cars) and the “Crunch Party” raising so much needed money for our self-built float. Ted Shaw, Dick Richards and Dr. Jim Hodge, all former mayors, have always inspired me to give back to our community, thus, I served for over 14 years as a commissioner for Natural Resources Commission and Parks & Recreation Commission and in various ad hoc committees. When I asked Ted for a donation when Parks & Rec commission started the Concerts in the Park summer series, he always donated every year and it was extra nice to see Ted and his wife Joan, actually come to Garfield Park to hear the concerts in the park Thank you Ted for all your wisdom and guidance. We will miss you and will always be remembered as our hometown hero! May you Rest in Peace.