Shipman honored

HUNTINGTON – The community will honor the late Robert H. Shipman Saturday with a celebration of his life at the Gateway Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m.
Shipman, who retired from the Gateway Regional School District in 2008, died March 19 after a three-year battle with cancer.
Shipman spent 34 years teaching, advising and coaching at Gateway. He began his teaching career in 1974 at the middle school and retired from the high school. He continued to advise the technical crew at the Performing Arts Center after retirement. Shipman wore numerous hats over the years, but was best known for his work managing the Center and advising the all-student technical crew there.
Wendy Long, Gateway’s communications director, said Shipman was also known for his kindness and patience.
“He is the kindest person you’ve ever met,” said Long, noting that his wife Mary Ann, a teacher at Gateway High School, has the same reputation.
“She is another one of those truly, genuinely kind teachers who makes a difference in the lives of students,” said Long.
Superintendent David Hopson said Shipman will long be remembered.
“It’s nearly impossible to put into words the positive impact Mr. Shipman had on so many students throughout his career at Gateway, but you can certainly get an idea if you take any time to look through the Facebook page developed by alumni and students (Words in Support of Mr. Shipman),” said Hopson. “I know that in my personal interactions with Rob—as a parent, a school committee member, and as superintendent—I was always struck by how he epitomized the meaning of a ‘gentleman’ in so many of its iterations. Students, including my daughters, often mentioned Mr. Shipman as being a great teacher in that he was kind, understanding, willing to listen, willing to lend a hand, was a teacher who students could confide in and would provide advice as a trusted adult – a very exceptional reputation given the fickleness of preteens and teenagers.”
Alumni of Gateway have left messages on the Facebook page dedicated to Shipman. Long said the page was created by a former student just days before Shipman’s death. Long said Shipman knew about the page and the well-wishes of so many former students. Since his death, there has been an outpouring from students and friends.
“Mr. Shipman was so very kind and supportive, he helped so many people achieve their goals, the world is truly a better place because of him. Rest in peace my friend,” wrote Kyle Mangini.
Rachel Rose wrote “Mr. Shipman, anyone who went to Gateway, goes to Gateway and/or has or have had children at Gateway, will agree that you and Mrs. Shipman have touched the lives of so many students, including mine. Thank you for sharing your guidance, wisdom, knowledge and patience with all of us. I’m so happy I got to have a close relationship with you throughout my middle school, high school and college years. I will continue to do my best to smile and try to not be sad because your life is one that should be celebrated, not mourned. So cheers, Mr. Shipman, here’s to you.”
Thaddeus Krukta posted that Shipman was one of “the most influential people of my entire life, you challenged me in a way that I could never have imagined, you were an amazing teacher, and I thank you.”
Sarah-Beth LaBonte Aras posted that Shipman “was a great man who I had the privilege of having as a middle school teacher. I appreciate his guidance, patience, and spirit for the hilltown community. He was a lovely example of how a truly great person can touch the lives of so many people. I will never forget his positive father-like presence.”
Long said within hours of creation of the page, there were more than 1,000 “friends” posting kind words to the Shipman family.
This was no surprise to Hopson.
“Adults were always struck by Rob’s calm demeanor, his ability to listen and respond with wisdom and common sense no matter how contentious the issue, and his willingness to go out of his way whenever anyone needed help,” Hopson said. “Any who knew Mr. Shipman would agree that his picture could be substituted for the definition of gentleman in any dictionary.”
Anyone who has attended a performance at the Center has seen first-hand the work of Shipman and his student crews.
“From the folks who attended productions ranging from plays, concerts, dance recitals, award ceremonies, public information sessions, pep rallies, and the 101 other activities that occur in the school, I’ve only heard complimentary comments on the technical aspects of these productions, the expertise of the student technical crews, the willingness to adapt to the needs of individuals and groups involved in these events and the fact that this was all made possible by Mr. Shipman, the acknowledged master of these extraordinary results,” Hopson stated.
Shipman left his wife, Mary Ann, sons: Paul, John, Peter and Geoffrey, and daughters: Jamie and Jenny. Rob also leaves his daughters-in-law Sabrina and Susan, and son-in law- Jason, as well as three precious grandchildren: Noah, Jillian and Tristan. Rob leaves his mother, Jeanille Hadden Shipman, and his siblings: Anne and Brian Brennan, Gary and Sean Shipman, and Bertram Shipman and his partner Kim. Also, four nieces and nephews; Kyle and Julie Brennan, and Taylor and Vanessa Shipman. Rob will be dearly missed by his mother-in-law Anita Shea, and his former wife, and dear friend, Janice Rising and her husband Chris.
The Celebration of the Life of Rob Shipman is at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Gateway Performing Arts Center. The event is open to the public. Long said Shipman himself requested the celebration in lieu of a funeral in order to celebrate his life and not mourn his death.

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