David Sheppard Shaw ’57

David Sheppard Shaw, 89, died October 5th 2023 while at his Wildewood Downs home in Columbia, South Carolina. Born in Baltimore Maryland, he was the son of Edith and Thomas Shaw. In 1958, David graduated from Davidson College, Charlotte area, earning a BS in Physics and Mathematics. Shortly thereafter, he began a rewarding and accomplished career with NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton. He would work at NASA for over 47 years as an aerospace research engineer, in the research center’s Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel, where he and his team tested and measured an array of planes, rockets and space craft that traveled faster than the speed of sound (767 mph).

He was preceded in death by his parents, Edith Sheppard Shaw and Thomas Willard Shaw and sister-in-law Elizabeth Shaw; He leaves to cherish his memory his wife devoted Mildred Morris Shaw and three loving sons, David (Shep) Shaw Jr., Charles (Skip) Shaw and his wife Sutton, and Steve Shaw and his wife Stephanie; his brothers Tom Shaw and wife Tommie Shaw and brother Bobby Shaw; Grandchildren Vanessa (Jay) Fielder, David (Trey) Shaw III and his wife Katie, Sydney Shaw, Skylar Shaw, Grigg Shaw and Tyler Shaw; Great-granddaughter Cassidy Fielder; as well as a host of other family and dear friends.

David was a very supportive father to all three of his sons in their many outdoor pursuits, which ranged from swimming, skateboarding, soccer, to flying airplanes, water skiing and boating. At many swim meets, he was the official score keeper. He would also drive several hours to watch and support a soccer game of one of his son at the drop of a hat.
In his youth, David was a very competitive basketball player, and he loved to watch basketball on TV. He attended Central High School in Charlotte, where he had a special nickname, “Dazzling Dave”. He was able to receive a basketball scholarship to Davidson University playing for 3 years. He was also a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He selected Mathematics and Physics as his majors. He would also go on to undertake graduate work at Virginia Tech (VPI).

David and his wife Millie were married for 65 years. He met Mildred (Millie) Morris in Charlotte and they dated their senior year in college. They married on June 14, 1958. They would have three sons, known, respectively, as Shep, Skip and Steve to family and friends. David and Millie would also travel together to Mexico, England, Scotland and many destinations across the U.S. David and Millie were able to attend their grandsons wedding in May 2023 (picture seen here). They were members of Hidenwood Presbyterian Church in Newport News, Virginia for many years, and most recently were members of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Columbia, South Carolina.

David was known as a medical survivor of tireless strength and will to live. He had over 135 throat surgeries across his lifetime. He had a medical condition of polyps (warts) on his vocal cords. The polyps needed to be removed on a regular basis by surgery & lasers. These surgeries gave him a very distinct raspy voice. In 2022, he took part in an experimental research drug program with the National Institutes of Health (NiH) to address the throat polyps. While the new drug had minimal impact on him, it is now receiving FDA approval to help others. He also had colon cancer in 2001, resulting in approximately a third of his lower intestine being removed. As we said he was a Survivor and fought hard!!
David loved to play card games, including Bridge, Hand and Foot, Gin, Poker, Kings Corner and Mish Mash. He was a voracious reader, and sometimes completed three books per week.

In 2006, David and his wife Millie moved from Newport News, Virginia, after residing in the area for 48 years, to the Wildewood Downs subdivision in Columbia, South Carolina. He was very active in the community in Bridge card games, expanding the library, putt putt golf competition, orientation for new members, supporting community activities, and exploring local sites & restaurants.

David worked at NASA Langley Research Center, in Hampton, Virginia, for over 47 years, specializing in the area of Supersonic Aerodynamics. In short order, he became acclaimed for the quality of his meticulous research and the insightful findings provided in his experimental results, as well as for the speed with which he was able to obtain, analyze and report them. He utilized some of the first NASA computers. He even worked with several notable experts that were the subjects in the movie called Hidden Figures. He received several patents from his work.
His many laudable accomplishments also included:
* 25 technical publications
* Group Achievement awards – NASP in 1993 and Space Shuttle in 1985
* NASA Awards for SST evaluation and Apollo achievement
* Fighters: X-2, X-15, F101, F104, F14, F15, F16, F18
* Bombers: B1, B58, B70, F111
* Supersonic Transports (SST) Boeing and Lockheed
* Missiles: Polaris, Sidewinder, Patriot, Navaho and over 40 others
* Spacecraft, Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Space Shuttle, Voyager, Viking Lander, Venus Probe, Mars Decelerator

A memorial Service will be held at the Wildewood Downs clubhouse on November 5th at 2:30 PM led by Father William “Scotty” Brock of St. David’s Episcopal Church. A reception for the Shaw and Morris Families will be held shortly afterwards.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made in David’s name to The Big Red Barn Retreat at www.thebigredbarnretreat.org to support Veterans.