John A. “Jack” Shaw

The Honorable John A. “Jack” Shaw passed away at home in Chevy Chase, MD, from heart failure on April 5, 2020. Jack Shaw, born on July 1, 1939, was the grandson of United States Senator William S. Vare of Pennsylvania, and was raised in Haverford, PA, by his aunt and uncle, Dorothy Vare and Thomas Read Hulme, due to the early death of his parents, Beatrice Vare and Dr. John Joseph Shaw. Shaw graduated from Kent School in 1957. He received a B.A. with Highest Honors in History from Williams College in 1962, where he was a member of St. Anthony Hall. He later earned a M.A. degree (1967), and Ph.D. (1976) from Cambridge University, where he was a Fellow of Magdalene College. He taught international and diplomatic studies at Cambridge University, Williams College, Georgetown University, and the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris. In 1967, Dr. Shaw returned from England for an assistant professorship of history at Williams College, where he invested his own time and money to found the Williams College men’s rowing team, and built the John A. Shaw Boathouse. From Shaw’s efforts in the early 1970’s, Williams became a preeminent U.S. rowing program, with men’s and women’s crews winning successive NCAA Division III Rowing Championships over the last 20 years.  

Dr. Shaw was confirmed by the Senate in 1975 as Assistant Secretary of State and Inspector General of Foreign Assistance, in which capacity he was responsible for the oversight of all U.S. foreign military sales, USAID, the Peace Corps, OPIC, and the Export-Import Bank. Dr. Shaw subsequently became Vice President of Booz Allen & Hamilton International in 1977, overseeing the development, organization and management of two new industrial cities, Jubail and Yanbu, in Saudi Arabia. During the 1980’s, Dr. Shaw served as Senior Advisor to the Administrator of USAID, and later under President George H. W. Bush, as Associate Deputy Secretary & Chief Operating Officer of the Department of Commerce, where he oversaw a major effort to reform the Bureau of Export Administration as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement.

From 1980-84, Dr. Shaw was a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), specializing in Middle Eastern and International Business Affairs, and co-authored a book entitled Saudi Arabian Modernization: The Impact of Change on Stability. He later became V.P. for Washington Operations for the Hudson Institute, overseeing the Center for Naval Analyses. Under President George W. Bush, from 2001 to 2005, Dr. Shaw served as Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for International Technology Security. Working under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Dr. Shaw directed the new Office of International Technology Security.

A previous marriage to Deborah Rossiter of Easton, MD, with whom he had two children, John Read Hulme Shaw and Deborah Brittain Shaw, ended in divorce. Dr. Shaw is survived by his beloved wife Helen Anderson Shaw of Houston, TX; his children, John and Brittain Shaw; four grandchildren, Eliza Goldsborough Shaw, Lydia Bennett Shaw, Conor Vare McInnis and Logan Tilghman McInnis; two cousins with whom he was brought up, Mary (Mimi) Hulme O’Malley, and Susanne Vare Hulme of Newtown Square, PA; two cousins, Ida Mae (Sissy) Peacock Terry of Vero Beach, FL, and Oliver L. (Sonny) Peacock, Jr. of Cashiers, N.C.; and five nieces and nephews. Dr. Shaw was preceded in death by his elder brother, Dr. William Vare Shaw.

A memorial service for Dr. Shaw will take place at All Saints Episcopal Church in Chevy Chase, MD, at a later date, followed by interment in the Vare Family mausoleum in West Laurel Hills, PA. Contributions in Dr. Shaw’s memory may be made to the Kent School Boat Club, P.O. Box 2006, Kent, CT, 06757; All Saints Episcopal Church, 3 Chevy Chase Circle, Chevy Chase, MD, 20815; and to St. Anthony Hall, P.O. Box 876, Ithaca, N.Y.,14851.

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