Be a white man who loses two wives to cancer. Watch your 12-year-0ld son die of cancer, and still dedicate your life to the betterment of humanity. Give all of your soul and heart to improving the lives of others, and find yourself in your final moment of life murdered by two black males trying to steal your car. [‘He kept loving and helping’: Odenville man’s life, marked by tragedy and kindness, ends in violence, Al.com, May 27, 2021]:
Brian Shaw was a man of peace.
He was a man who, despite the tragic losses of two wives and his 12-year-old son – all three of cancer – continued to love, live and give.
He was a man who, after retirement, became a beloved American Red Cross worker, logging more than 8,000 volunteer hours in his three years with the agency.
He was a Buddhist, a car fanatic, a world traveler and, most of all, a devoted friend.
Earlier this week, at the age of 67, he became a homicide victim, gunned down behind his St. Clair County home. It appears two men tried to steal his beloved Chevy Camaro, affectionately named “Babe.”
“Brian was a pacifist. He didn’t believe in violence, so this is hard to comprehend,’’ said his sister, Carole Tatum. “He was my baby brother. It’s hard.”
The shooting happened at Shaw’s Ladonna Drive home in Odenville.
According to friends and family, Shaw was in the three-bay, industrial-style garage behind his home working on one of his cars. He loved to buy and sell cars, take them apart and rebuild them. Most recently he had bought Babe, the 2002 convertible Camaro that had logged only 16,000 miles.
It was shortly before 8 p.m. when his neighbors heard what sounded like gunfire.
“They heard, ‘pop pop,’ and his wife said, ‘that sounded like gunfire,’’’ Tatum said. “He came out of his house and saw Brian laying there and told his wife to call 911. He grabbed his shotgun and went back outside.”
Sheriff’s officials have charged 34-year-old Charles Lawrence Grimmett, of Birmingham, with murder.
He was taken into custody not long after Shaw was killed. Court records show Grimmett pleaded guilty in 2017 to shooting another man with a shotgun. He received a 10-year suspended sentence.
Friday night, 20 -year-old Andray LaQuarn Pope Jr., also of Birmingham, was booked into the St. Clair County Jail. Though a murder charge against him had not been announced, he is listed as a suspect in Grimmett’s murder warrant.
It did not appear Shaw knew the suspects.
‘He had a zest for life.’
Shaw was born in Canada but had a dual citizenship.
He lost his mother at a young age, and he and his siblings moved to Florida with their father. Eventually, the family ended up in the Birmingham area, where Shaw graduated from Homewood High School and went on to study computers at a trade school.
He married his high school sweetheart, but she died of cancer just two years after their son, Artie, was born. Shaw moved to Vestavia Hills, and later Artie, too, became ill.
He was first diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, got well, and then later developed lung cancer and died. An award was launched in his name – the Artie Shaw Award – at Vestavia’s Pizitz Middle School.
“Brian was devastated,’’ said best friend, Kay Channell. “He sold his house and went on a long trip.”
Eventually, Shaw became engaged to his second wife, Mary Grace McCord, a Birmingham area public relations specialist. It was during the engagement that McCord developed Hodgkin lymphoma, so they married sooner than expected and Shaw cared for her until she died in 2015.
“This is the life of Brian,’’ Channell said.
Following McCord’s death, Shaw moved into an apartment attached to the home of close friends Sallie Downs and her husband. By then retired, he became a handyman of sorts, traveling all over the country to help with a deck, or a kitchen, or a whole house.
He bought a van and outfitted it with a bed and electricity. Friends called it the “Hippy Van.”
“He had his own driveway and garage in addition to his apartment, so he worked on his cars and designed and built-out his ‘Hippy Van,’’’ Downs said. “I think in addition to space, we provided a home to come home to, and a family to come home to as well. What a gift it was for us.”
He often spent time with his Canadian friends who wintered in Florida, and he regularly housesat for friends in New Mexico. He visited about 47 states, and often posted pictures of his travels. “His goal was to get a picture by the ‘Welcome to North Dakota’ sign,’’ Channell said.
“He had friends everywhere, and he’d just go visit them and he’d be gone two or three weeks,’’ Tatum said. “He was always on the go. He had a zest for life.”
Eventually, he bought his St. Clair County home.
“He had a lot of tragedy in his life beginning with his mom dying when he was young, but that’s just who Brian was,’’ Channell said. “He’s going to pick it up and move on down the road. He was the very best man you could meet.”
Three years ago, Shaw began his Red Cross volunteer work and eventually became a Disaster Action Team Duty Officer/Supervisor.
“Brian treated everyone with kindness and was a gentle soul,’’ said Debbie Looney, Disaster Program Manager.
“He treated all people with compassion, empathy, dignity and respect. This was especially important when some were having the worst day of their lives as a result of a disaster such as a fire, tornado or flood.”
Shaw posted about his volunteer work on Facebook, noting his three-year anniversary with the agency.
No matter how well Brian Shaw lived his life, enduring personal tragedy after tragedy, it still ended with two black males murdering him over his Camaro.
White privilege means this is probably the first time you’ve heard of how Brian Shaw lost his life, or endured the tragedy of loss within his life.