This week, Mid Rivers Newsmagazine talks with Tom Shaw and his wife of 31 years, Kathy. Tom got his start in real estate in the late 1940s working for his father, Charles A. Shaw, who founded Shaw Realtors in 1922. By the late 60s, Tom’s love for horses moved him west. The business of listing horse ranches and farms became a major company focus. In the ensuing years, thousands of acres were sold and developed into Beacon Hill, Forest Green Estates, Cheri Acres, Westbury Manor, Village of Green Trails, Christmas Valley, Shepard Ridge, Deepwoods and numerous others.
Do you like things to be carefully planned or do you just like to go with the flow?
Tom: Boy, oh boy, who ever gets anything done carefully planned? I guess you have to go with the flow. How do we ever get our own way?
What’s a favorite memory from your youth or childhood?
Tom: I was a catcher on so many baseball teams and you have to know everybody. Every high school kid has a weak spot when he picks up the bat, and it’s your job to tell the coach. It’s really interesting, 10 or 15 years later you can run into someone and say, “I remember you, you did this in the box.” I caught for Clayton, Muny League, American Legion – all through the summer we had a lot of games. I had a cannon on my shoulder. I could pick guys off at second base. Back then, baseball was the big thing. Football wasn’t because too many people could get hurt. A lot of parents wouldn’t let their kids play football.
What chance encounter changed your life forever?
Tom: Kathy. She straightened my life out.
Kathy: We met on a blind date.
Tom: She was awfully nice and she hasn’t changed. She just was a good, good influence. That’s a nice thing for a guy to say about his wife, isn’t it?
What’s the funniest thing you’ve done in your lifetime?
Kathy: I can answer that one. We grew azaleas at our horse farm in Chesterfield, called Deepwoods. Azaleas everywhere! They were his pride and joy. Well, I walked out on the porch one day and I saw him out there with a fly swatter and he’s batting at this bug – or what he thought was a bug – and this thing kept flying. He couldn’t hit it. It was a hummingbird. [Kathy laughs] He thought it was contaminating his flowers.
Tom: Wait a minute, this is the office of a newspaper, isn’t it? Shhhh …
How did your profession change over the course of your career?
Tom: There wasn’t a lot of roads out here. Hwy. 40 was a little highway but it carried a lot of traffic and that’s why it ended up so big now.
Kathy: He sold real estate on horse back. Everything was rideable out here.
Tom: I was selling every builder that wanted to come out this way. We had so much activity out here. People were coming out here to ride horses and to own horses.
What always cheers you up when you think about it?
Tom: Well, I spent a lot of time in my life with my kids – that’s an awful lot of it. [He laughs.] My horses were more important to me for a long time.
Kathy: The truth comes out. He had as many as 22 horses at one point.
Tom: But, you know, all my kids rode horses. Do you know what a cutting horse does? Horse and rider go into a big herd of cattle and you pick one calf and you drive him out and you can’t let him get back into that herd until you’re ready to let him back in. Debbie [daughter Debbie Shaw Franke] was Youth Activities World Champion cutting horse rider. As was my son, Tommy [Tom Shaw Jr.].
Kathy: If you play Trivial Pursuit, one of the cards says, “Who was the first female Youth Activities World Champion?” And the answer is Deborah Shaw.