Dr. Ridgway Shinn

December 14, 2006

Brief Notes on the Remarkable Life of Dr. Ridgway F. Shinn, Jr.... Dr. Ridgway F. Shinn, Jr., husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, teacher, historian, author, musician, civic and church leader died December 14, 2006 at age 84. His family was by his side. He leaves his wife of 62 years, Clarice Wagner Shinn; his five children: Jenifer Tait, Ridge Shinn, Craig Shinn, Jeremy Shinn, and Beth Shinn; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.... Ridgway F. Shinn, Jr. was Professor of History at Rhode Island College and named Professor Emeritus upon his retirement. He earned degrees in history at Oberlin College (BA) and at Columbia University (MA and PhD). His tenure at RIC was from 1958 to 1987. He served as the first chairman of the Department of History, the first Dean of Arts and Sciences, and Vice President for Academic Affairs. In 1981, he was named Distinguished Service Professor of the College.... An historian with particular interests in Britain, the British Empire and Commonwealth, he taught at all levels of education in Connecticut, California, New York and Austria. He was a published author of research studies, articles, and reviews. He published a major study in 1990: Arthur Berridale Keith, 1879-1944: The Chief Ornament of Scottish Learning (Aberdeen University Press), a biography of a world authority on Sanskrit, oriental studies and the constitution of the British Empire.... Dr. Shinn was the recipient of multiple grants, awards and honors associated with his scholarship. He received grants from the Canadian government for studies in Canada, from the Scottish Arts Council, and from the Rhode Island College Faculty Research Fund. In 1982, he was named an honorary life member of Friends of Edinburgh University Library in recognition of the work he did in preparation of the Guide to Keith's papers in that library.... In the mid-1960s, he was the Project Director for the Providence Social Studies Curriculum Project, curriculum research and revision from kindergarten through twelfth grade, which was undertaken with major grants from the US Office of Education (1964-65, 1966-69). This project designed a model for linking academic resources of Rhode Island College to curriculum revision and social studies content in cooperation with teachers and staff of the Providence Public Schools. The results were reported in July 1970 as 'A Study of a Geo-Historical Structure for a Social Studies Curriculum' (Cooperative Research Project 6-1195-1-10-1; US Department of Education).... Dr. Shinn was a member and leader of many professional organizations and academic societies over his career including the American Historical Association, New England Historical Association (Executive Committee, 1978-81, 1986-88; Vice President and Program Chair, 1984-85; President, 1985-86; Executive Secretary, 1986-87), North American Conference on British Studies, Rhode Island Historical Society, and Rhode Island Social Studies Association (President, 1961-64). He maintained membership in Kappa Delta Pi (Education) and Phi Alpha Theta (History) honor societies.... In the community, Ridgway served in leadership roles with many boards, commissions and civic organizations including the Governing Board of the RI State Council of Churches; the Board of Directors of the American Heart Association (RI Affiliate); Cub Scouts (Cubmaster, Pack 1 Johnston, RI 1960-1963); Rhode Island State CROP, a hunger advocacy organization; Rhode Island Chamber Music Series; Dodeka; and the Board of Directors of the Elizabeth J. Johnson Pawtucket History Research Society. His leadership was widely felt in the Methodist Church locally at Mathewson Street Church, United Methodist Elder Care, and in District and national governing boards. ... An accomplished organist and pianist, Ridgway studied organ at Oberlin and studied piano in Vienna for two years with Professor Paul Weingarten of the Vienna Academy of Music. He served as organist in churches in Waterbury, Connecticut; Reedley, California; Mamaroneck, New York; and most recently at Mathewson Street United Methodist Church in Providence, Rhode Island. He also served as choir master in several of these appointments. He enjoyed performing chamber music with colleagues from the music department at RIC and performing solo organ recitals. ... On his retirement, he and Clarice initiated the Ridgway F. Shinn, Jr. Study Abroad Fund at Rhode Island College. Clarice and Ridgway traveled extensively in the United States and throughout the world. They personally supported children and grandchildren in foreign travel to generate an understanding of other cultures, traditions and governments. The Shinn Study Abroad Fund extends this interest and commitment to RIC students. The fund is dedicated to helping RIC undergraduates study outside the United States. To date over 44 students have studied abroad as Shinn Study Abroad Fellows, with study travel in countries spanning the globe, such as Armenia, Egypt, Chili, and Palestine. This fund is one of the designated funds for memorial donations. ... Devoted to family, his 62-year marriage with Clarice became a cornerstone for his five children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. The family also became a center for an extended family and many, many friends attracted to their moral and empathetic life. Clarice, an educational specialist in the area of learning disabilities, retired from the Cranston Public Schools. She is well known for her collection of over 1400 ethnic and international dolls. ... Consistent with their love of travel, in 1960 they embarked on a summer-long cross country exploration of the United States in a VW bus taking all five children on a journey to California, plus their nephew, John Case, for the return trip. Family gatherings celebrated their marriage (40th in Rhode Island, 50th in Edinburgh, Scotland and 60th in Ottawa, Canada). For several years, they gathered their eight grandchildren for a week long ?Cousins? Camp? which predictably included van tours with historical lectures en route to the region?s historical, cultural and geographical landmarks. ... The Ridgway Foulks Shinn, Jr. and Clarice Wagner Shinn family includes the following: Jenifer Ann (Shinn) (b. 8/47) is married to Russel Tait. They reside in Manchester, Connecticut. Their daughter, Charlotte Rose Tait is engaged to Seth Usher and will marry next May. They live in Riverside, Rhode Island. Ridgway F. Shinn, III (b. 10/48) is married to Lynne Pledger. They reside in Hardwick, Massachusetts. Their son, Newell Pledger Shinn, lives in Richmond, Indiana. Daughter Rosa Reyna (Pledger Shinn), her husband Cory La Due, and their son, Isaac, live in Barre, Massachusetts. Craig Wagner Shinn (b. 9/51) is married to Kathy Shinn and resides in Canby, Oregon. Their eldest daughter Karrie Lark Pelling is married to Gartz Gould. They live on Vashon Island, Washington with their two children, Maya and Eli. Son Erin Jakob Ridgway Shinn is on a yearlong travel adventure in New Zealand. Daughter Caitlin Anne Shinn lives in Eugene, Oregon. Jeremy Foster Shinn (b. 9/52) is married to Carolynne Shinn and lives in Weare, New Hampshire. Their son, Wesley Graham Shinn lives in Portland, Oregon. Their daughter Courtenay Elizabeth Shinn is just returning from Peace Corps service in Madagascar. Beth Alison Shinn (b. 2/54) is currently pursuing a doctorate in Edinburgh, Scotland and has lived in Mexico and in Japan (18 years) as a missionary. ... In the culminating four days of Ridgway?s life, the children and grandchildren traveled from as far as Africa and New Zealand to be present in a vigil of music, prayer, humor and love kept by his hospice bedside. As each family member arrived, Ridge acknowledged each person with 'amazing' or 'wow.' Lucid and communicative to the final moments of his life, he actively participated in the decisions regarding his care and directed his attention to the timing and nature of family and community memorial services. In these last days, visits and contacts by an extensive number of friends and family and the ?amazing? network of people whose lives he has touched testify to his remarkable life. ... A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, December 23, 2006 at Mathewson United Methodist Church in Providence, Rhode Island. Parking is next to the church. Memorial contributions in lieu of flowers can be sent to the Shinn Study Abroad Fund at Rhode Island College Foundation, RIC Development Office, 600 Mt. Pleasant Ave., Providence, RI 02908 or Mathewson Street UM Church at 134 Mathewson St., Providence, RI 02903. ...