Lawrence D. Shinn
May 30, 1924 ~ August 29, 2014
How do you summarize a life? How do you put into words all of the various dimensions of a life that spanned 90 years? The life of Lawrence D. Shinn is one that spanned across some of the greatest time periods in American History. His life also spanned some of the greatest industrial and technological advances in Human history. And amid all that change there are a few words that stand out:
Determined. From the very beginning of his life he was faced with extraordinary circumstances that would cause most of us to hang up our hat and call it quits. He worked on farms, picked fruit, built houses and pole buildings; he raised turkeys, chickens and cattle and operated a sawmill. And of course, he worked on the farm and logged the great forests of the Pacific Northwest. Whatever was necessary to provide for his family, he was determined to provide.
Laughter. He loved to laugh. He loved to poke fun whenever given the opportunity. He wasn’t afraid of putting on a wig, some girly glasses and a couple clip on earrings to get a reaction out of you. He probably had inside jokes with all the family members and took advantage of the opportunity to individualize his approach to best suit his audience. And of course, nobody could touch his strawberry jam without an adequate dose of overinflated, righteous indignation.
Diligent. There aren’t many people on the planet who worked as hard as Lawrence did. Of course he would tell you that if you didn’t do it, it won’t get done. But as long as there was work to do, he did it.
Exploration. He loved to travel. He had a passion for the National Parks, especially the Grand Canyon, and the beauty that could be soaked in to the bone. He worked hard enough to be able to explore without feeling guilty, and he absorbed as much of God’s creation as one could aspire to see in one lifetime. This love of the sheer beauty and wonder of nature has been passed down through the generations. His passion for exploration led to him spending his retired years traveling with Maude. They bought a motor home and traveled all over the United States. They truly enjoyed this time together and shared many stories about their adventures.
Farm. Lawrence had an understanding of what it mean to be a steward of the land he had been blessed with. He also knew that you needed to produce things to make a living. Even when his mother grace experienced health issues related to the chickens they were raising that just meant he had to find something else to produce. So, whether it was trees, chickens, sheep, cattle, turkeys or children, his love for his farm has created another generation of children and grandchildren who have the same love.
Innovation. He wasn’t afraid to try something new to provide either. Whether that was buying the TD-9 to log on and off the farm, setting up a sawmill to sell railroad ties, flipping properties for a profit, being the first to work at the Broadmore plant in woodland, and eventually starting a construction business with his son, Larry which lasted for 26 years – he tried new things.
Tough. He went through a lot in his lifetime. As can be expected when you work hard on the farm, from time to time you get injured. But this didn’t keep him from getting back on the horse, the tractor, the roof or anything else. But he wasn’t just tough, he also wasn’t afraid to be tough. When his kids and grandkids needed to be told something, he wasn’t afraid to pull them aside and say it. He was always kind in his rebuke, and never judgemental, but he knew that being tough was what was needed and he was tough enough to be tough. And he didn’t complain – at least not much. Even in the end of his life.
Love. As much as he loved to travel, he loved his high school sweetheart incomparably more. He loved one woman until the day he died, and none of us were unaware of just how much he missed his bride. He adapted his life to meet her needs, especially as she struggled for a long time. And even then, he was motivated to care for her out of love. He showed us all how to love your spouse selflessly and unconditionally. He had and undying love for the love of his life.
Family. Lawrence had a love for his family. He had a desire for his young family to be vested in the interests of his predecessors. And he sought to raise a family that would pass on the tradition of selflessly caring for one another. If you asked him what he thought his legacy would be, I’m sure family would be at the top of the list.
We haven’t done justice to the life he lived with these few words, but they’re a start to an understanding of a life that has affected the lives of so many others. There simply aren’t words to express the influence and impact of his life, but I guess that’s kind of the point. We don’t do his life justice by mentioning a few words, we do his life justice by carrying on where he left off.
So perhaps the greatest praise we could sing of Lawrence D. Shinn will not be in the words we share on this day – though we must and we should tell the stories he would tell; but could it be that the greatest praise of his life will be in the kinds of lives we lead with the tools he gave us to lead them?
Click below to listen to the audio of the memorial service:
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