Thomas Shone establishes scholarship in memory of his father, Howard J. Shone

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 3, 2009

Catawba College Alumnus Thomas J. “Thom” Shone of Mocksville, Class of 1981, will be the first one to tell you just how influential his father was in shaping his life and career.

“He was a loving, supportive and understanding father who offered me a great balance of expectation and demand,” Shone says. So in honor of his dad, he has established the Howard J. Shone Endowed Scholarship at Catawba to pay tribute to a man who spent his life “being a good husband and a great dad.”

Education was always important to Howard Shone, his son explained, despite the fact that the elder Shone opted to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II instead of accepting a full ride to either Rutgers or Princeton University. “He decided they needed him to help win that war,” Thom said.

His father was stationed on the destroyer S.S. Caldwell as a Petty Officer Third Class in power generation and fire control. He saw action in the Atlantic and Pacific, was a veteran of Okinawa and the Coral Sea campaign and was on one of the first American ships to steam into the Japanese harbor at Yokosuki following the surrender of Japan.

“My dad is a great American story,” Thom continued. “This guy was so representative of his generation and has done so much to help others get educated. I watched him all of my life work eight hours and then study at home four to six more hours. He lived a daily commitment to learning and to the acquisition of knowledge.”

That personal commitment to higher learning set an example that contributed to the attainment of degrees in international business and communications, engineering degrees and post graduate degrees by his children and grandchildren. Each attributes the successful completion of this work to a shared family value fostered by “Pop Pop.”

Howard Shone, who was president of his class all four years in high school, parlayed his self-education into a long career with Shell Oil’s petrochemical division. He retired as vice president of engineering services and general manager of that company’s Thorofare, N.J., manufacturing site. Today, he and Helen, his childhood sweetheart and wife of 59 years, make their home at Uwharrie Point in New London, far from their Williamstown, N.J.. roots.

“Thom Shone’s gift will help attract students with potential and assist able and deserving young people to achieve their educational goals,” noted Tom Childress, Catawba College senior vice president.

Thom Shone, the only male among Howard and Helen Shone’s five children, is president and founder of Risk Advisory Group in Winston-Salem. He has long supported Catawba’s various capital campaigns, the Friends of Wrestling Fund and the Catawba Fund. He has served on the Board of the College Alumni Association and is currently a member of the College’s Board of Visitors.

Thom Shone’s college career was also interrupted by a call to arms. After he arrived at Catawba in 1971, he received his draft number and realized he “was going to have to leave.” He took a three-year break for service, serving as a medic with special tactical training as an airborne and Ranger-trained field medical expert. After that, he worked for a while before returning to Catawba.

“I would never have come back and gotten it right if I didn’t need to satisfy for both of us (me and my father) the requirement of a college education,” Thom Shone remembered.

Back at Catawba, he said he had a life-changing event when Dr. (Dan) Brown, now a professor emeritus of religion and philosophy, “asked us to write a mission statement for our lives.

“I remember writing that the American health system would be the focus of a great debate,” he said. “I didn’t know exactly how then, but I knew I wanted to be involved.”

Today, he has realized his collegiate vision. His company is a consulting group which helps large employers design, implement and adminster healthcare delivery to their employees, with a focus on alternate delivery systems.

“It’s not too much to say that Catawba figured prominently in preparing me to work my career in a red hot issue,” he said. “I want to be doing something that matters and affects people and policy. I now have a voice in this debate and I like that; I like that a lot.”

After graduation from Catawba, he studied economics at Purdue University, related business studies at Wake Forest University and public policy at Harvard University.

His nephew and Howard Shone’s grandson, Luke Griffith, graduated from Catawba in 1999, earned his master’s degree in public administration from Rutgers University where he is now completing his law degree. Joshua and Jonathan, Howard Shone’s other grandsons have earned engineering degrees.