Gordon L. Shull, loving husband of Betty Shull (1926-2020) for over 67 years, peacefully passed from his full and accomplished life on April 8, 2023. He was nearly 98. A Wooster resident since 1955, Gordon was the father of three sons: Philip (Jill Bollom), David (Mike Allen), and Andrew (Cheryl Rowland), the grandfather of five, and great-grandfather of two.
Born to missionary parents in rural India in 1925, he graduated from Woodstock School in the Himalayan foothills. His education instilled in him a wonder of nature and a love of countless hymns and poems that he quoted until the end. At age 10 he sailed to India out of San Francisco Bay under the newly completed Golden Gate Bridge. At age 17 he sailed back to the U.S. on a freighter that dodged German U-boats. Seeing the horrors of World War II made him a life-long advocate for peace and justice. One of the original “Seagoing Cowboys” in what later became the Heifer International foundation, he tended cows and horses on ships sent in 1945-46 to replenish Europe’s decimated livestock populations.
Gordon was a College of Wooster Professor for 38 years, co-founder of the College’s International Relations major, and was long-time leader of the College-Community Forum on Great Decisions in U.S. Foreign Policy. He was an active member of the Democratic Party, but as a professor he was meticulous about keeping his political beliefs to himself and helped his students develop and articulately express their own beliefs.
Ordained church elder, civil rights advocate, frequent preacher and teacher in area Presbyterian churches, interfaith honoree, volunteer reader at nursery schools and English teacher for refugees, Academic Dean of the Lay Academy for Religion, Daily Record columnist, Kiwanian, co-organizer of Wooster’s Bicentennial celebration on the Public Square on July 4, 1976, active member of the Cleveland-Akron Foreign Affairs Council and PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), Ohio Light Opera patron, and so much more, Gordon Shull embodied the adage, “The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”
Over the course of his seven decades as a local community and church leader, he worked to advance urgent contemporary causes such as non-discrimination in housing, peaceful co-existence, and gay marriage. He wrote dozens of published articles and letters on international and social issues.
Gordon earned a Bachelor Degree from Manchester College, Indiana, a Master of Divinity degree from Yale, and a PhD from the University of Illinois where he met Betty.
He loved Wooster and attributed his longevity to “90% genetics, 5% virtue, and 5% being five minutes away from everything!”
He leaves his family, community, and world his shining example, his tireless work for good, his sense of humor, and the George Bernard Shaw quote with which he challenged his students:
“Some see things as they are and ask, ‘Why?’ I dream things that never were and ask, ‘Why not?’
Memorial services will be held on Saturday, September 9, 2023 at 11:00 AM at First Presbyterian Church, 621 College Ave., Wooster with Rev. David Rice officiating.
Friends will be received one hour prior to the service at the church.
McIntire, Bradham & Sleek Funeral Home, 216 E. Larwill St., Wooster is assisting the family.
Online condolences may be left for the family at www.mcintirebradhamsleek.com
My deepest sympathy on the loss of your father and grandfather. Thank you for sharing him with a world that truly needed him!
What a beautiful piece about a wonderful, wonderful man
Sorry to see this, and his contributions to the college and community will be missed. Long and lovely life. Class of ’70, never will forget him.
Our deepest sympathies go out to you all.
I’ll always remember our childhood as neighbors and all the good times playing outside till those street lights came on.
In later years I would run into your parents and re-introduce myself and they were so happy to reminisce about those times.
You must of had some very interesting conversations in that house with the contributions your parents made to the community and world. They were fortunate to of lived such long and full lives doing the things they felt important and enjoyed.
May they Rest In Peace!
Dear Phil, David and Andrew,
I just read of your father’s passing. He was an incredible man and your obituary summarized well the fullness of his life and his passion for justice. It is hard to think of First Presbyterian without Gordon and Betty. They had an amazing impact on my life. Gordon introduced me to a contact in the Dominican Republic who helped our church work for 7 years building a hospital in Paraiso. He had met Marcia at a UN conference he was attending. Dave and I also got to travel with your parents to India on a trip organized by the Alters which expanded my world greatly. Gordon told us stories of growing up in India. And then his presence and thoughtful opinions at FPC and his quiet demeanor during conversations are some of my memories. Plus, he and Betty gifted us all with 3 fine sons. Sending love and thanks for a well lived life.
Deepest condolences for the loss of a remarkable man.
Such sad news – my heart goes out to all of the extended Shull family. Dr. Shull was a wonderful man and mentor. I had my very first class with him at the College of Wooster, and he was with me at every step of my time there, as a professor for many of my classes all the way to serving as my senior year Independent Study advisor. His example and encouragement helped to lead me to get my doctorate in Political Science and to become a professor myself. Although I knew him as the father of my friends, his sons, and from our church as we were growing up, he will forever be “Dr. Shull” to me.
My condolences. What a brave and honorable life he led