Born Feng Hsiao in China, he began one of the state's first minority-owned construction firms and helped many minority-run businesses get started.
Feng Hsiao, who changed his name to Fred Shaw when he emigrated from China to Minnesota, started one of the state's first minority construction firms. He was a pillar and major benefactor in the Twin Cities' Chinese-American community, and a man whose word was his bond.
"He was a role model for the Asian community," said Susan Rani of Minneapolis, whom he encouraged to start an engineering firm. "They don't come any bigger."
Shaw, 91, died of natural causes in his Richfield home on June 21, said his eldest son, Howell Shaw, of Las Vegas.
Shaw cofounded Shaw-Lundquist Associates in 1974. Its projects include the Minneapolis Convention Center, Brookdale Regional Center and Library, and the A and C concourses at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Shaw said his parents set up a scholarship fund that has helped dozens of University of Minnesota students study in China. His father also cofounded the Chinese-American Business Association of Minnesota and the National Association of Minority Contractors' Upper Midwest chapter.
"He is one of the reasons I am in business," said Richard Copeland, owner of Thor Construction, one of the largest black construction firms in the country. "Fred Shaw has been a pillar in this community, an icon, a hero. He has stood up for minority businesses when he didn't have to."
Despite running a successful company, Shaw was a humble man who was always willing to help smaller minority-run businesses, Copeland said. Shaw financially supported a local minority contractors' chapter that "helped countless minority companies get started. He didn't need the [contractors] association, but he was there and an example to all of us coming up to show you that you could succeed and succeed with integrity," Copeland said.
"Shaw helped me become his competitor, teaching me the business and sharing some of his strategies," Copeland said. "He lived in the hard-bid environment, the toughest sector of the construction business."
Shaw was born in China. His college grades earned him a scholarship to MIT. After earning a master's degree in civil engineering, he came to the University of Minnesota to study hydraulic engineering in 1947. While at the U, he started the Chinese Christian Fellowship.
At church he met Orville Madsen and began working for him as a construction estimator. When Madsen's firm moved to Wisconsin in 1974, Shaw and co-worker Lyle Lundquist started their own company in Minneapolis. Shaw bought Lundquist's share when he retired a decade later. Eventually, Shaw-Lundquist earned annual revenues of more than $80 million and was the largest certified minority contractor in the Midwest, Howell Shaw said.
He recalled that when he was about 10, his father came home upset that he had lost a contract bid because he had put a decimal point in the wrong place in a bid price. "He was in tears, and we prayed about it around the table," Shaw said. "He put all his faith in the higher power."
In addition to Howell, Shaw is survived by his wife, Jennie; two other sons, Hoyt and Holden, both of Edina, and three grandchildren.
Services will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, with visitation one hour beforehand, at Christ Presbyterian Church, 6901 Normandale Rd., Edina. Visitation also will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday at Washburn McReavy Edina Chapel, 5000 W. 50th St.