William Lewis Shackleford (1937 - 2014)

My father died last Friday, April 25, 2014, after a long battle with heart disease. It's hard to find the words to describe him, so I'll do as I usually do and just stick to the facts.

Willliam Lewis Shackleford was born on September 2, 1937 in Sequim, Washington. From an early age, he was very competitive and excelled at everything he put his mind to. I recall he said he won a bible memorization contest every summer at bible camp. When the camp director asked him not to compete any longer, to let someone else win, he chose to quit going to camp. As far as I can tell, this is about the extent of my father's exposure to religion.

I can say he was literally a rocket scientist. He worked deeply in the field of anti-ballistic missiles. In particular, he knew as much as anybody about how to locate an enemy rocket by the spectrum of its flare. Besides traveling to test sites all the time, he made frequent trips to Washington D.C. to report to the powers that be on how taxpayer money was being spent on such technology.

As a father, my father was STRICT, especially on me, his oldest. He had high expectations and wasn't afraid to let me know when I wasn't meeting them. I am more easygoing by nature, and it was no secret this caused some friction between us. However, he did give me a love of math and science, which has done me very well. Considering what I have now, I thank my father for pushing me to do my best, but not pushing so hard to lead to my rebellion.

My father was also very outdoorsy, and so was my mother. From them, I get my love of running, hiking, bicycling, camping and traveling. Where I get my interest in gambling, I'm not sure. It is said my great grandfather was a big gambler, winning and losing a fortune over his life. My father's gambling activity was usually restricted to betting a couple dollars on the Triple Crown races.

Later in his life, my father slowed down, ate too much, and exercised too little. This led to heart disease and a major heart attack. While he survived the heart attack, it left him weakened and on a slow decline. He fought hard, but on April 25, 2014, his heart finally lost its fight. He died at home with my mother, one of my brothers, and me near his side.

Rather than remembering him in his weakened state during his last days, I would prefer to immortalize him with these photos, taken when he was in his prime.

Dad with my grandmother and his younger brother at Seattle home.

Early sixties. Note the old record player and black & white TV

After Ph.D. oral exams.

Deep thoughts.

I've seen this look many times.

Wedding ceremony.

Just married.

Two years later... (with me).

Deep in thought again.

Summit of Mount Whitney. This is where my parents met.

Waiting for Master's Degree ceremony to start.

Our old house in Gardena. We moved to Seal Beach in 1970.

Me and dad. He did like bubble soap.

Teaching me what a rudder does.


In the stockade, Williamsburg, VA. I took this photo in 1985 or 86.

Me and my dad (1990).

I'm not sure where this is, but my father loved wooded the mountains of the Pacific northwest.

My father and two brothers.

With my older daughter, apr. 2002.