Donald Robertson Shaw

Donald Robertson Shaw

Donald Robertson Shaw, 94, passed away peacefully in his Bardsdale home on Tuesday morning, November 18, 2008. He was born to Thomas and Esther October 29, 1914 and raised on the family’s citrus ranch in Bardsdale. He attended the Bardsdale Grammar School and graduated from Fillmore High School in 1931. While attending Fillmore High School, he started as halfback during the football seasons, and threw the javelin and discus during the track seasons. His love of aircraft began in high school when he and his cousin Ebby Wileman ordered and built a glider. They taught themselves how to fly and would take a passenger for a flight after being towed airborne by a Model-T down the runway at the Fillmore Airport which was located where the Fillmore Fish Hatchery is today. After attending UCLA for 1 year, he enrolled at the Curtis Wright Aeronautical Institute, in Burbank, Calif. He graduated with a degree in Aircraft Design Engineering. While at Lockheed Aircraft Company, Amelia Earhart worked with him while he made design changes to her Lockheed Electra aircraft, which she made her fateful flight in 1937. After joining Hughes Aircraft Company he worked on the design of the Hughes-Kaiser HK-1 Spruce Goose, and as Liaison Engineer, he spent many long hours with Howard Hughes during the testing phase of the experimental D-2 aircraft at Harpers Dry Lake near Barstow, Calif. A scaled-up version of this aircraft, the Hughes XF-11, was built and flown by Howard Hughes as a prototype military reconnaissance aircraft for the United States Army Air Force. Despite promise, the XF-11 suffered a crash on its maiden flight that nearly killed Hughes when it developed an oil leak in one of its unique counter-rotating propeller mechanism, resulting in a fiery crash on a golf course in Hollywood, Calif.
In 1946 he moved his family back to Bardsdale to manage the ranch for his ailing mother. He became a longtime Board Member of the Bardsdale Church, the Southside Water Company, and the Cienega Water Company. He was Scoutmaster of Troop 402 for 15 years. He made scouting a memorable experience for the boys by the many trips, with the assistance of the local ranchers, hiking and fishing in the High Sierras, exploring the old mines around Red Rock Canyon, and the countless hours spent in the 64 miles of Silver Mine Tunnels at Calico Ghost Town before Knott’s Berry purchased the property. Upon his retirement, he and his wife traveled extensively throughout the Southwest hiking and exploring ruins. They spent Spring and Fall together on Lake Powell, boating and hiking canyons with family and friends. They were members of the Lake Powell Yacht Club. They loved fixing meals and entertaining new and old friends they met on the lake and many lasting friendships were made.
Don was preceded in death by his brother, Rev. Ellis R. Shaw.
Don is survived by his wife of 72 years, Thelma (McCawley), his son Douglas and(wife Helen), his son Roger, 5 grandchildren, 9 great grandchildren, 3 great great grandchildren, and 2 nephews.
A graveside service will be ministered by his nephew, Rev. David Shaw, at the Bardsdale Cemetery on Thursday, December 4, 2008 11:00 A.M. Memorial donations may be made in his honor to the Fillmore Boy Scouts or the Fillmore Alumni Association. Arrangements are under the direction of Skillin Carroll Mortuary.