At the Shaws' Funeral, a Symphony of Themes
A week after Rufus Shaw shot his wife, Lynn Flint Shaw, then turned the gun on himself, approximately 500 people filled St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church in Oak Cliff this morning for their funeral mass. Those in attendance included prominent political figures: Mayor Tom Leppert wasn’t spotted, but his chief of staff, Chris Heinbaugh, attended, as did City Manager Mary Suhm and city council members Dwaine Caraway, Tennell Atkins and Sheffie Kadane.
Former Dallas Area Rapid Transit board member Joyce Foreman was in attendance, as was her replacement, Jerry Christian. Others at the service included State Sen. Royce West, House Rep. Barbara Mallory Caraway, Rev. Dr. Frederick Haynes III, radio personality Tom Joyner, former council members Al Lipscomb and Craig McDaniel and City Plan Commissioner Michael Davis. Those in attendance were greeted outside by local TV crews, set up as though it were a red-carpet event.
Rev. T. Michael Dugan led a service filled with songs, readings and prayer. Dugan joked that Lynn spent more time at the church than he did and reminded those seeking answers that there aren’t any. As rain poured onto the church, Barbara Caraway said, “God has given us rain to show us that we cannot shed enough tears to show our pain.”
Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway said Rufus’ father, who was in attendance, played football with his father at Lincoln High School in South Dallas. He told the Shaws’ son, Ian, that he had “a lot of uncles here today.”
Caraway described Lynn as a strong and committed leader who introduced orchestra into a community that only knew jazz. “Behind the leadership of Lynn and her commitment to our community, she brought that culture to the southern sector where we grew to have a great appreciation and love of arts,” Caraway said. He also emphasized that today was a day of closure, and he challenged the press to be respectful of the couple's families.
“We’re gonna leave this where it is,” he said. “If you switch shoes, you wouldn’t want it happening to you and your family.” In short, he said, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."
West, to whom Rufus placed a call shortly before killing his wife and himself last week, said his relationship with Rufus went back to the eighth grade, where he knew him as “Sugar Bell” before knowing his real name. He said Shaw was concerned about his community, proud of his children and was always setting the standard both academically and athletically. "When you think about Rufus Shaw, you know that he wasn’t afraid to speak his mind, and he was known to give you a piece of his mind also,” West said.
West asked for standing ovation for both Rufus and Lynn to salute them “for a job well done.” He told Ian that he will give him the flag flying over the state capitol today as a small token of respect.
Bill Lively, president of Dallas Center for the Performing Arts, called himself a student of Lynn's and recalled when he met her nearly seven years ago at the Meyerson Symphony Center at her request. He said there were between 10 and 15 school buses outside filled with children. As Lynn held his hand, a young boy said, “This is a palace.” Lively said Lynn told him a powerful message: “Only in sports and the arts do we transcend politics, geography and race, and we can do something as families.”
Lively praised Lynn’s efforts in the 2003 bond program, which raised $30 million for cultural institutions. He described her as an honorable woman who kept her promises. Lively said once the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts opens, sometime within the next two years, someone will write a book. “And when they do," he said, "there should be chapters talking about Lynn Flint Shaw and what she did to make this center possible for all people -- all of our families.”
Carol West, Royce’s wife, described how she, Lynn and Barbara Mallory Caraway scheduled regular lunches that evolved into dinners and then a book club called “The Circle of Friends.” She said the book club, which expanded to more than the trio, has been together for six years, and they spent more time drinking wine than talking about books. “We should be known as 'The Wine Club,'” she joked.
Mallory Caraway said one thing she loved about Lynn was that she swore. She said every Lent, Lynn said she’d give up swearing. “We know now that God has a direct hand with Lynn holding her tongue,” she said.
Ian, the couple’s only son with each other, was still in shock -- a week later, he wore the look of grief and, as much as anything else, disbelief. --Sam Merten