Messenger - Vol. 2, No. 3, Page 4
Summer 1993
The Shaw touch

     In the basement of her home, JoAnne Collier Shaw, Delaware '60, '75M,
keeps two sewing machines, two dozen or more amazingly technicolor
petticoats, 200 chickens...well, models of chickens...and, of course, what
else but an impressive assortment of eggs. A tour around Shaw's Newark,
Del., home offers a colorful glimpse of this talented woman, who this year
was named Outstanding Alumna of the Year. A bright array of drapes,
upholstery and cushions betrays a passion for texture and fabric, and all
are her own handiwork. The ceramic sculptures and the busts of her three
daughters on display are her own creations-a skill honed while pursuing her
master's degree in art and textiles.
     Sewing and dress design were early loves for Shaw. She still cherishes
a childhood paper doll set, just as she keeps the tailor's dummy she used
as an undergraduate. And, she still designs and makes her own clothes.
Suspended from the ceiling in her basement workroom is an ivory, moire
taffeta and velvet bridal gown Shaw made for a cousin, a creation soon to
be entered in a design competition.
     Shaw sews clothes for another passion-square dancing. "You can go wild
with those costumes," says this former fashion correspondent for a local
square dance magazine. She and her husband, Charles, square dance every
week, and they teach round and ballroom dancing at the Center for Creative
Arts in Hockessin, Del. She also teaches aerobics daily and has been
tap-dancing for several years.
     "I like to do so many things," Shaw says. "It's one of my problems."
     The chicken "problem" may be out of hand. Shaw can't remember when she
began collecting the models, but there are so many of them now, made of
every conceivable material, that they've claimed a room of their own.
     Still another passion is travel. Dominating one wall of her basement
is a map of the United States. Red lines mark routes the Shaws have driven
in their motor home. Over the years, they've made four, cross-country
voyages, and one entire "lap." "It's a beautiful country," she says, and
you sense that many of her patterns, colors and arrangements are inspired
by impressions gathered on these cross-continental excursions.
     Upstairs, you pass through an addition Shaw conceived of herself-house
design being another outgrowth of her human resources training. Broad
windows overlook a perennial garden that offers blooms throughout the
season, in a setting featuring patios, stone pathways, rockeries, a bird
sanctuary and-most arresting of all-a sapphire blue crystal on a plinth.
This summer, she is taking a holiday in England, exploring outlying country
     A board member of the Human Resources Alumni Association (HRAA) for
five years, Shaw served on an ad hoc committee that was instrumental in
securing state funding for the expansion of Alison Hall, which houses the
College of Human Resources.
     She organized relentless lobbying with Delaware legislators for
support of this addition to Alison Hall. "In fact," she recalls, "a local
representative declared that if one more alumnus called, he definitely
would not vote for the bill." As chairperson of the 75th Anniversary Fund
Committee, which was created for last year's celebration and is ongoing,
Shaw is helping to raise money for a new lounge in Alison Hall. She has
organized house tours, silent auctions, visits to museums and factories and
day trips to the Waldorf Astoria. And, she's preparing and hosting a $100
dinner in support of this latest project.
     Shaw spent a year on the faculty of the Charles E. Ellis School in,
Newtown, Pa., and taught in adult education for the Newark and Seaford
school districts throughout the 1960s. Last year, she was a part-time
instructor in the College of Human Resources. Active in the American Home
Economics Association and numerous other groups, she also has been involved
in local politics, running for the state senate in 1976.
     Shaw's relationship with her college is a close one, and now it's a
family affair as well. Her youngest daughter, Julia, Delaware '91, walked
straight into a New York computer company after graduation, where she
applies computer technology to dress design.
     Last November, the Human Resources Alumni Association acknowledged the
special bond JoAnne Collier Shaw has with her college by making her the
first recipient of its Appreciation Award.
     Judging from her continued efforts on behalf of her alma mater-and
indeed the whole, colorful fabric of her life-that appreciation is mutual.
                              -Steven O'Connor, Delaware '94 Ph.D.