Roy Blackshear, Shipman president
By Mary Vorsino
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Mary Vorsino
Roy Shipman Blackshear, the longtime president of landowner W.H. Shipman Ltd., who was known for his keen sense of business, a massive collection of antique phones and a knack for raising nene, died Dec. 26 after a long illness.
He was 83.
"He was a really good father," said daughter Barbara Ann Andersen. "He always had jokes. And he was a great storyteller."
Blackshear was born in Hilo, Hawai'i, to a family whose roots trace back to William Cornelius Shipman, a New England missionary who arrived in the Islands with his wife in the 1850s.
Blackshear grew up on Hawai'i Island and later attended Punahou School.
He served in the Air Force during World War II, with duty stations in Saipan and Okinawa. When the war was over, Blackshear returned to the Islands to attend school.
Blackshear graduated with his bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Hawai'i and went on to work for Hawaiian Telephone Co. for 24 years.
His tenure with the company got him interested in antique telephones, which he was worried would disappear as technology advanced. His daughter said Blackshear stopped counting how many phones he had collected over his lifetime.
The collection, which included phones from Europe, has been featured in magazines and newspapers and displayed at the Lyman House Memorial Museum in Hilo.
In 1974, equipped with cutting-edge ideas about management and industry, Blackshear joined the family business.
He started as vice president of W.H. Shipman, and two years later took over the company's reigns from his grandfather.
Blackshear would stay on as president until 1994 and successfully bring the company into a new age of development: He took the family out of cattle ranching, started a business park and spearheaded the rebuilding of Kea'au Village.
He also worked with the Nature Conservancy, the University of Hawai'i and other entities, allowing them to use land for research studies or conservation purposes.
"He always thought out of the box," Andersen said.
Around the time Blackshear joined W.H. Shipman, he started raising nene at the family's estate. His uncle started the flock, bringing a few birds to the home to breed.
Andersen said her father talked to some U.S. Forestry officials to get information on raising nene and learned how to warm hatchlings in an incubator in his basement.
The nene took to the estate, with Blackshear feeding and dutifully watching over them. At first, he named them. But later, when their ranks grew, he resigned to calling them his "boys and girls." His nene-raising efforts led to praise from bird conservation experts in Hawai'i and on the Mainland.
Blackshear was also active in the community and served on countless boards. He was president of the Hawai'i United Way and Chamber of Commerce in the 1970s and '80s, and often donated his time at fundraisers.
He received a "distinguished service award" from United Way for his volunteerism, and also got an "outstanding service award" from the Girl Scout Council.
Blackshear is survived by daughters Andersen and Joan Blackshear-Leech, sister Beryl Walter and two grandchildren.
Services for Blackshear are set for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Haili Church. In lieu of flowers or contributions, the family asks monetary donations be made to any charity.
The family also asks that attendees write down their favorite memories of Blackshear and bring them to the services.
Reach Mary Vorsino at email@example.com.