ROBERT SHAW used to spend evenings before dinner playing catch in the back yard with his son Jeff. Before they went inside, he'd tell Jeff he was going to throw a "100 footer!" and challenge his son to catch it. It's a perfect metaphor for the high aspirations that Shaw had not just for his own children, but for all of the students of Katy ISD.
A NATIVE OF YALE, OKLAHOMA, Shaw was working in the shipbuilding industry in Virginia when he met a nursing student named Cindy on a blind date. They married in 1971 and, in 1974, they moved to Katy.
It was a sleepy suburb at the time, a great place to put down roots and raise their three children - Chuck, Allison and Jeff - but close to West Houston's energy industry, where Shaw spent his career. He worked for Dow Chemical and for the Bechtel Corporation as part of the team that designed and built the South Texas Nuclear Project and, later, a nuclear waste reclamation project in Washington State. He eventually went to work for Aker Solutions, where he was an engineering designer for many years.
A LIFELONG LEARNER, Shaw was insatiably curious about how things worked. When a new job assignment required CAD skills, he bought books and taught himself. In his garage workshop, he made custom golf clubs and taught his children to measure angles.
He used his agile hands to build and his keen intellect to envision how things could be even better. He turned his boundless energy into making his community a great place for his family, his neighbors and people he would never meet.
HE BROUGHT THOSE QUALITIES to Katy ISD, where he served on the Board of Trustees from 1997 to 2012. But his service started long before he was elected to office. Throughout his children's years in school, he was involved in youth sports, including Little League, basketball and swimming. He was described by a Board member who served with him as the district's "biggest volunteer," a "selfless servant who got excited about opportunities for all students."
LONG BEFORE SHAW RAN FOR THE BOARD, he attended meetings, listening and asking carefully considered questions - becoming, as a Board member described him, "a student of the Board long before he became a Board member." It was Shaw's self-described "passion for students" that prompted him to move from the audience to the Board table in 1997. "At the time," he said, "I could see across the district where, in my eyes, there were some inequalities from school to school. My vision was for every student to have an opportunity to be a success." One Board colleague called him "a man of the bigger picture."
Shaw was known for his quiet, studied approach to issues, his relentless attention to detail, his zeal for creating opportunities for all students, and his tireless mentoring of new Board members - as early as when they were considering candidacy.
EVEN THOUGH, AS A FATHER AND FAN, he "bled Katy Tiger Red," as a Board member, Shaw adopted the colors of every school. He talked about the district to everyone he encountered. He took people on tours. He attended athletic events and special functions - even after he retired from the Board two years before his death in 2014.
Shaw never let anyone forget that his eyes remained on his original vision: unlimited opportunities for student success offered by a forward-thinking school district serving a community where his own roots had grown so deep. "Everything about Robert Shaw," said a current Board member, "spoke to the future."