Brett Shaw, 48, of New Paltz died unexpectedly from a sudden medical emergency on July 2, 2020. Brett was a much loved man, who, in return had a deep abiding love and unshakeable loyalty to family and friends, not least of which were the many birds who flocked to his well tended feeders year around. If love is in the details, Brett always had the inquiry, “is there anything I can do for you?” He cared well, and was a true friend for those around him.
Born on August 23, 1971 to Emily Shaw Sheehan of New Paltz, and Dr. Ernest Shaw of Kingston, he always shared his infectious enthusiasm and zeal for life, an abundant and overabundant energy, mischievous and boundary daring as well. Yet for all his outward openness, he had a shy and private side. As a young child he swam endlessly in the lake below the Shawangunk cliffs, and relished having crowds of friends pile into his bedroom with the family dogs for sleepovers at night. All lives have their ups and downs, successes and failures, and Brett had the strength and fortitude to ride those waves, not always easily, nor always wisely, but who does? He always engaged life, rose to the challenge. You have to be present to win, and present he was. He touched peoples lives.
He attended New Paltz High School, and graduated SUNY Brockport. From 1995-2000 he was Program and Training director at the pioneering Camp Kingsmont in the Berkshires, being the youngest camp director in the country, dealing with overweight children, childhood obesity and social wellness. In charge of a staff of over 100, he represented the camp on many national television shows, including 20/20, 48 Hours and Maury Povich amongst others. Twenty years after Kingsmont was sold and he moved on, he still receives letters and communications from ex campers and staff alike.
He lived and worked in Boston for several years, got certified as a physical trainer and was Boston area sales manager for Golds Gyms, a Cruise Director for Club Getaway and other transitional jobs. He then began a new and highly successful and challenging career working as a sales representative and training manager for two major medical and surgical equipment companies, Synthes Maxillofacial and Cascade Medical, supplying and teaching hospital based programs some of the new and upcoming technologies. He was based in the best New Jersey hospitals, like Hackensack and Morristown. Several injuries and illness led to a difficult period of his life, and he returned to his home in the Mid -Hudson Valley. There he began a successful on line sports memorabilia business called 7th Inning Stretch Vintage Sports Cards, and also became the full time caretaker for his 94 year old grandmother until she died just short of 100, a commitment of love, sustained effort, and professionalism. He also was certified as a NYS EMT providerLife settled down when he inherited her home in New Paltz, and he spent the last 2 years devoted to renovating the house. He also trained and became a full time bus driver for the New Paltz schools, and he really treasured his work with kids again, fulfilled by the banter, humor and responsibility that were so much his nature. He died suddenly and unexpectedly, at the threshold of a new beginning.
Brett is mourned and missed by his parents, Emily and Ernest, stepparents Peter Sheehan and Marna Anderson, his grandmother Marion Doan at Woodland Park, aunts and uncles Fred and Susan Shaw, Peter Shaw and Nancy Doan Klein, cousins Sara, Nancy, Stephanie, Danielle and Bryan, and so many friends and neighbors, and his closest friends Kim and Jean aka “The Girls”.
The poet Mary Oliver wrote: “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your wild and precious life?”
Distance is but a stretch of the imagination.
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