Thomas R. Shaw, 97 – LkldNow

Thomas R. Shaw, Lakeland’s first Ambassador, passed away peacefully at his home on July 18, 2022, at the age of 97.

Born in Columbus, Ohio to Robert Ross Shaw and Mary Agatha Sites, Tom was the fourth of 5 sons. He graduated from Rosary High School and Ohio State University, interrupted by 2 years of training in the Army Air Corps as a pilot for World War II. After his release, he married his high school girlfriend, Inez Flynn, and together they lived 57 years of marriage until Inez died in 2005.

Tom worked for Prudential Insurance Company, moving the family from Columbus to Neptune Beach, Florida, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Lexington, Kentucky, before finally settling in Lakeland in 1974, where he retired after 32 years.
He then embarked on a long period of civic service, serving on the Lakeland City Commission for 20 years and serving as mayor of Lakeland for one of those years. He loved Lakeland! He was a member of Rotary International and president of Lakeland Sister Cities International for many years. He has served on the Polk County Tourism Development Board, Economic Development Board, and Sports Marketing Commission, among many other causes and contributions to Lakeland and Polk County, his adopted home.

Generally recognized as the “father” of Lakeland Sister Cities, he was instrumental in building this organization and establishing sister cities for Lakeland. He made many trips to all of our sister cities: Richmond Hill, Canada, Imabari, Japan, Balti, Moldova, Portmore, Jamaica and Chongming, China, nurturing those relationships. He believed that by creating bonds between peoples, wars could be avoided.

He gutted and rebuilt a century-old building on Orange Street and created the Shaw House B&B, which he operated for almost 20 years. He loved sharing Lakeland with his guests.

He was an artist, organic gardener, carpenter and mason. You could find him on any of Lakeland’s beautiful tennis courts well into his 80s. He loved life and believed in the goodness of people.

Tom is predeceased by his parents, his wife, Inez, and a son, Richard Ross Shaw.

He is survived by his children, Kate Shaw, Sue Shaw Drummer, Tim Shaw, Martha Shaw Garvin, Jim Shaw, George Shaw and Barbara Shaw Reardon. They share their grief with his grandchildren, Lea Bradley, Hannah Bradley, Sarah Ramey, Molly Shaw, Meg Shaw, Tim Hendren, Patrick Garvin, Emily Garvin Badcock, Madeline Reardon and Mariela Reardon, and 8 great-grandchildren.

The funeral will take place on Wednesday, July 27, 2022 at 10:30 a.m. in the Saint-Joseph parish hall. Condolences can be sent to the family at Heath Funeral Chapel.

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