01 Nov
Obituary for Byron H. Shaw


Obituary for Byron H. Shaw

Byron Herbert Shaw, 73, died peacefully in the company of family on Friday October 21st at the St Clare Hospital in Weston.

Born January 4th, 1943 In Madison, WI to the late Kenneth and Ruth (Wilhelm) Shaw of Waunakee, Byron developed a strong civic-minded value system and a love and appreciation for the outdoors, and became Waunakee’s first Eagle Scout. This set the stage for what would become a celebrated life and career dedicated to protecting water resources.

Byron earned B.S, M.S. degrees, and a Ph.D. in Soil and Water Chemistry from the University of WI-Madison in 1968, where he developed his ability to understand the chemical and biological health of natural systems. While attending school, he met Margaret, whom he married June of 1966.

Also in 1968, he accepted a professorship at the UW-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources, where he enjoyed teaching and mentoring students, providing adult education via UW Extension, and directing the Environment Task Force Program which he helped establish in 1972. Blessed with dedicated students and colleagues throughout the UW system and the capacity to understand complicated technical and policy issues, Byron pioneered work on the detection and impact of pesticides and other contaminants in groundwater. This helped formulate public policy and law to promote environmental quality, and earned him the 1993 Wisconsin Idea Award in Natural Resource Policy. Watch for more information on Byron’s career and accomplishments in the Stevens Point Journal and Portage County Gazette.

Byron retired from UWSP in 2000, but continued to serve in numerous capacities in his quest to help safeguard water resources, and particularly groundwater. Until his death, he was routinely called upon to provide testimony on water quality issues throughout the country.

It was with an adventurous, determined and engaging spirit that Byron approached all things in life, and was often found leading family, others and a faithful Labrador retriever on memorable outdoor excursions. Most acquaintances have a tall tale, close encounter or hilarious anecdote to share concerning Byron. Eager to learn, eager to share, and eager to help, Byron loved spending time with family and especially his grandchildren, and developed enduring relationships with many. Above all else, this is what he treasured.

Never one to be found idle, Byron lived with his family on a rural farm on which they raised crops, cultivated a vineyard, 50-acre native prairie, and Christmas trees. Each Spring was welcomed by the act of making maple syrup, with homemade wine and beer enjoyed throughout the year. In the evenings, when it was too dark to do otherwise, he was found creating cedar strip canoes and paddles, and carving and turning wood. Byron served as lector and server at St James Church in Amherst for many years, President of the New Hope Alliance, board member of the River Alliance, and in numerous other capacities.

Byron will be deeply missed by his supportive wife Margaret of Amherst Jct, sons Jeffery (Terry Hiltz), Cottage Grove, WI, Daniel (Mary Sobota), River Falls, WI; grandchildren Lilian and Samuel Shaw, River Falls; sister Barbara (Wilmer) Larson, Cottage Grove, WI, close nieces and nephews, extended family, and a large community of dear neighbors, colleagues and friends with whom he maintained strong relationships.

A Memorial Mass will be held on Saturday October 29, 2016 at St James Catholic Church in Amherst with Father Daniel Hackel officiating. Visitation starts at 9:30 am, Memorial Mass at 11:00, with dinner to follow in the church hall. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the University of Wisconsin Byron Shaw scholarship fund or the North Central Conservancy Trust (

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Posted by on November 1, 2016 in General


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