Monday, July 9, 2012

Story of a Patriot, Story of a Teacher

We were saddened this past week to learn of the deaths of two friends, Gayden Morrill, who lived in Williamsburg, and Suzie Shaw, of Manassas. 

We knew Gayden and Nancy Morrill when they lived in Manassas and attended our church. When Suzie taught English at Osbourn High School, she had both our daughters in class. 

Gayden and Suzie were both fine people whom we will miss.

Gayden and Nancy were possibly two of the most gracious people I have ever known. He worked for the C.I.A., one of a number of operatives who seemed to gravitate to our church. They knew each other from other duty stations but would only say that they were “civilian employees of the Defense Department.” They couldn’t say much about what they did, but I gathered enough information from other sources to know that their work kept us safe from dire threats to our nation.  He always had a smile and a kind word to say.

Gayden also coached Little League, served for nine years as a Boy Scout leader, and served the Lions Club International for forty-four years. When he retired with Nancy to  Williamsburg, he enjoyed leading tours of Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. He enjoyed historic preservation, furniture refinishing and restoration, gardening, and art. He and Nancy traveled extensively in retirement.

Gayden was diagnosed with ALS a short while ago and declined rapidly.  Patriot that he was, it was perhaps fitting that he passed away on July 4. Godspeed, Gayden Morrill and love and comfort to your family and friends in your passing.

In lieu of flowers, contributions will be accepted in Gayden's memory by the Mayor Gayden W. Morrill Charitable Foundation of Newburyport, in care of Mr. James Kory Wilson at Fidelity Investments, 1900 K Street Northwest, #110, Washington, DC 20006. Online condolences may be expressed at

Teachers can tell when other teachers are the real deal, and Suzie Shaw, whose funeral service is today, was the real deal. She brought incredible energy and humor to her work, and her love for her young charges was evident. Amy and Alyssa shared with me what they were doing in English class, and I knew that the class was what it should have been because Suzie did things the way that I would have! When Alyssa got into a spat with a young man in her class, Suzie was perturbed, but administered justice with a  twinkle in her eye.

She taught for Prince William County and the City of Manassas for 33 years, winning the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award sponsored by the Washington Post in 1987.  She also taught for Strayer University after her retirement. We would come across her at intermission and after concerts at the Hylton Performing Arts Center these past couple of years and she always asked about our girls.

Suzie's service is this afternoon at 2 PM at Grace United Methodist Church on Wellington Road in Manassas. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Susan K. Shaw Memorial Scholarship Fund at Wells Fargo, 155 Broadview Ave., Warrenton, VA 20186. The scholarship will be awarded yearly to a graduating senior from Osbourn High School, Manassas, VA.

Our family was richer for knowing Suzie, and generations were blessed by her knowledge and care. And so she has run the race and we wish for her rest and a well-earned eternal reward. Good-bye, Suzie. You made a difference in so many lives.

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