To Clint Shaw, the world — the galaxy, even — was his playground.
In retirement, he toured the world three times aboard an educational cruise ship for college students. At 80, he traveled to the North Pole on a Russian icebreaker. He even signed up with NASA for a chance to ride in the space shuttle.
“He loved adventure,” said his daughter, Vicki Wyard. “He really did think he would live long enough to get to the moon.”
Shaw, of Deephaven, died Oct. 16 of natural causes. He was 96.
Although his parents had a passion for travel, Shaw developed a hankering for exploration during World War II, where he was commander of a fleet of PBY bombers. One of the most widely used sea planes during the war, the behemoths could patrol for enemy submarines and ships from air and also land on water to rescue downed pilots.
“He lived life with gratitude because he didn’t think he’d live through the war,” Wyard said.
In the Navy, Shaw navigated by the stars, and he shared that love of the night sky with his daughter and son, Dana, who died in 2001. He pointed a giant telescope across the shores of Lake Minnetonka and enjoyed quizzing his family about the constellations.
After the war, Shaw worked as manager of one of his father-in-law’s machine shops. He also managed the Calhoun Beach Hotel for more than decade, meeting celebrities passing through and befriending residents, including Pauline Phillips (aka “Dear Abby”) and her husband, Morton. One morning in 1956, he had breakfast with Elvis Presley, who apparently hated to dine alone.
Shaw was small of stature, not quite 5-foot-8, but he remained fit and strong despite what Wyard said was a “minor heart issue” discovered when he was 55. Most mornings he woke up at 5 o’clock to swim laps, forming a close social network with fellow swimmers. He kept at it until he was 93.
“He believed that swimming kept him healthy and energetic,” Wyard said. “He never had any soreness.”
Shaw loved fast cars with cool design. During high school in California, he once lent his hot rod to a fellow speed club member named Clark Gable.
“He had a fighter pilot mentality,” said Jim Johnson, a neighbor. “Everything he did was fast. Even when he was old he did things fast.”
Shaw was nearly 95 before he stopped driving the cream-colored 1994 Jaguar XJS convertible that had become his trademark around the neighborhood. When he gave it to Johnson, who had long admired it, Shaw urged him to treat it well: “A raindrop has never touched it,” he said.
Shaw didn’t talk much about his time during the war. But during a three-week trip to Europe in 2000 with Johnson, he opened up about the night he spotted a Japanese submarine surfacing at dusk. Shaw decided to return in the dark of night with a surprise attack.
“They flew a circle around it, downwind,” Johnson recounted. “When the torpedo ran through the water, they saw a tremendous explosion. It sank in five minutes. No way anyone survived.”
Shaw was somber.
“It was war,” Johnson said, trying to reassure his friend. “Your job was to kill the enemy to save American lives.”
“That’s easy to say,” Shaw answered. “To this day it bothers me that I killed 100 men.”
In addition to his daughter, Shaw is survived by his wife of 72 years, Lois Mary. No memorial service has been planned.