John Wesley Shaver
October 23, 1932 - February 27, 2023
John Wesley Shaver was born on October 23, 1932, in the town of St. Francis, Kansas, close to the family farm where he grew up in Armel, Colorado. The farm harvested crops of wheat and corn, and the family raised pigs, chickens, dairy cattle, and other animals. Life became sufficiently easier with the purchase of two milking machines. One year, the family hosted the one-room school teacher, and she and John rode the family horses, Madge and Beauty, to school. Throughout his youth, John was surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins from both the Piper and Shaver sides of his family. Central to the community was the Armel United Methodist Church, where his mother was the pianist. Many a social activity occurred in its basement, including a public school started by his grandfather, Morley Piper.
A strong student, John skipped a grade and enrolled in the University of Colorado (Boulder) at age 16. He and his friends worked the switchboard in a girls’ dormitory in exchange for rooms in the basement. Always curious about anything electronic, he graduated with a BS in electrical engineering. In the mid-1950s, he enlisted in the Army for three years, living in Monterey, California; Indiana; and New Jersey. Amazingly, during that time, he drove his parents and himself from Colorado to New York in a Volkswagen Beetle. It was the first of many decades of Volkswagens for the family.
John started working for Motorola in Phoenix in 1957 and met his wife, Lucy Rose Richards at the First United Methodist Church’s Young Adults’ Fellowship. They married on the morning of Christmas Eve, 1957, in the Armel Church, with his Aunt Hester and Uncle Frank reusing the flowers and church for their own wedding that same afternoon. John and Lucy eventually settled in Fort Worth, Texas, where John worked for General Dynamics and both daughters, Alicia and Cynthia, were born.
The promise of dry weather and fewer allergies enticed the family to move to Sierra Vista in 1962. That year, John continued his career in electronics at Fort Huachuca and became a charter member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. In the early 1970s, the era of teletype machines and computer punch cards, he spent a year at the University of Arizona earning a master’s degree in computer science. He continued to work with talented, thoughtful, and humorous people at Fort Huachuca until his retirement in 1997.
Civic-minded, John was a city council member in the late 1960s, as well as a board member of the Sierra Vista Library Board, Sierra Vista Arts and Humanities Commission, Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Coop and the Arizona Folklore Preserve. He envisioned, created, and co-chaired the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering with Bud Strom for its first decade, an annual event that began in 1993 and continued for three decades through 2022. The three-day gathering included visits by poets to local schools, awards, music, poetry, art, and open microphone events at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon in Tombstone. It was an honor to meet, and sometimes host, so many talented artists and hear their stories of life in the west firsthand. In 1999, he was awarded the Mayor’s Art Award for his contributions.
From an early age, John was an avid musician. He belonged to many choral groups, including the Meistersingers, the Sierra Vista Community Chorus, and the choirs at the Main Post Chapel and the Sierra Vista United Methodist Church. John and Lucy were charter members of the United Methodist Church in 1968, along with fifteen other families. He held various leadership positions at the SVUMC and, for a time, taught the high school Sunday School class.
Lucy and John loved traveling in their later years, and enjoyed trips to China, Canada, Europe, and Russia, along with many summer vacations in Kauai. He was preceded in death by his wife of 62 years, Lucy, who passed in November 2020. He is survived by his sister Janet (Walt) of Wray, Colorado; daughters Alicia (Rick) Daniel of Thornton, Colorado and Cynthia (Jeff) Atherton of Pleasanton, California; grandchildren Lacey and Michael Daniel and Amy and Jack Atherton; “bonus daughter” Kathy Neary; and nieces Debbie, Donna, Linda, and their children and grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister-in-law Anne Catlett and niece Cathy Lackner. John and Dutch (Merlyn) Baxter, a former Buena High School guidance counselor, were first cousins, and grew up near each other in northeastern Colorado/northwestern Kansas. The family considers the Baxter children (Michael, Sherry, and John) and their partners (Debbie and John), children, and grandchildren as vital family members. Another cousin, Del (Dave) Leewaye was a large part of life in the Shaver family.
The family wishes to thank the incredible kindness and dedication of the staff of Prestige Assisted Living, physician Monica Vandivort and the staff at Banner Health, family members Debbie and Michael Baxter, and special family friends-Bob and Jan Reiner, Gary Redding, and Rita Battle-for all their expertise, assistance, compassion, and care. John’s final days were greatly comforted by the exceptional team at Casa de la Paz Hospice. After a wonderful Sunday evening visit with daughters Alicia and Cynthia, John passed peacefully in his sleep later that night, in the early morning hours of February 27, 2023. His joy of life, dedication to music and civic service, and humorous approach will be sorely missed. Per his wishes, he will be cremated and a combined celebration of life for Lucy and John will be scheduled for later this spring. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that gifts be made to the Sierra Vista Community Chorus, a second home for John for two decades.
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