Les Shaw at Peggy Shaw Celebration of Life
Les Shaw
  • 87 years old
  • Date of birth: Apr 18, 1927
  • Date of passing: Dec 29, 2014
A kind and gentle soul who made friends wherever he went.

Lilburn Ernest (“Les”) Shaw of Boulder, CO passed away on Dec. 29, 2014 after a period of declining health. He enjoyed visits from numerous family members over the holidays. He kept his wit and sense of humor throughout his final days. His wife of 68 years, Peggy Sue Shaw, preceded him in death on May 28, 2014. Les and Peggy were the parents of six children. They were both preceded in death by their sons Brian and Bruce and are survived by their sons Randy in Buford, WY; Doug in Kremmling, CO; and Kevin in Centennial, WY; and by their daughter Susie Chelton in Corvallis, OR. They are also survived by 12 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

Les was born to Lilburn Edwin Shaw and Bernice Nelson Shaw on April 18, 1927, in Minneapolis, MN. His parents moved the family to Boulder in 1943. With the prospect of a fresh start in a new high school, Les spent the drive west in the back seat of his dad’s 1941 Lincoln Zephyr contemplating a nickname that would spare him from ever having to endure being called “Lil” or “Lilly” again. He came up with “Les” from his three initials and was known by that name ever after.

While in high school, Les volunteered for the Army in 1944 and began training in 1945 immediately after graduating from Boulder High School. World War II had ended by then and he served as a medical technician in New York, tending the wounds of returning veterans. While on leave over the Christmas holidays, he married Peggy, his high school sweetheart, on December 31, 1945. After his service in the Army, he received a degree in Engineering Physics in 1950 from the University of Colorado.

Les and Peggy raised their family in the 1950s in “The Atomic City” (Los Alamos, NM) where Les worked for 11 years on the hydrogen bomb project and the Rover reactor project at Sandia National Laboratory and Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. He moved the family to Colorado in 1961, where he worked for Sunstrand Turbine Division as a test engineer. In 1970, he co-founded Colspan, an engineering research company, where he served as Vice President of Research and Development and led a team developing cloud-seeding rockets. In 1974, Colspan evolved into Solaron, a solar energy residential heating company. In 1981, he joined Ball Aerospace Systems Division as a test engineer, working there until his retirement in 1992.

Les had a zest for life and a never-ending desire to experience all that it had to offer. His most enduring hobbies involved flight. He had a long interest in model airplanes dating back to high school. He built model gliders and was active for many years in numerous model airplane clubs. He was FAA licensed as a sailplane pilot in 1974 and was president of the Boulder Soaring Society for a year in the early 1980s. He also enjoyed square dancing, photography, astronomy and building hi-fi stereo systems. One of his favorite avocations was doing handy-man repairs around the home. He was also a voracious reader and spent a lot of his free time at the Bookworm in Boulder. He subscribed to 18 different magazines at the time of his death, and he never stopped learning about the science behind our changing world. More than anything, though, Les always wanted to hear all about what his family members and friends were doing.

Those who had the good fortune to know Les will always remember him fondly. He was a very kind, gentle and generous person with a knack for making everyone feel important. His enthusiasm, cheerful attitude and unbridled optimism are a role model for all to live by.

In lieu of flowers, please send a tax-deductible donation to Frannie Masterman, 431 Stinson St., #7, Vallejo, CA 94591. Make checks payable to the National Free Flight Society and include a note that the donation is in honor of Les Shaw.

A celebration of his life will be held in the spring. For details, contact Les’s daughter Susie Chelton: cell phone number 541-760-8612, email at sue.chelton@gmail.com , or by mail 3550 NW Wisteria Place, Corvallis, OR 97330


Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Mike Stabler on 25th January 2015

"Les "worked" for me in about 1988. He participated in a program to lessen his property taxes by volunteering for the county. I really enjoyed his quiet humor and creative mind. At the time, besides working for me and the county housing authority, he was collaborating with an inventor on a new type of fly fishing rod (or some such thing). I have thought of him fondly from time to time and know that he will be missed by many."

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This memorial is administered by:

Dudley Chelton
Dud Chelton
Mike Stratton
Sue Chelton


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