Remembering the Many Lives of George L. Shinn G’90 ’92
Wall Street Titan + Intellectual + Benefactor
George Latimer Shinn was at the peak of his career as chairman and CEO of First Boston Corporation, when, in 1983, at the age of 60, he voluntarily retired and entered graduate school.
Shinn enrolled in the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies at Drew and in 1990 earned a master’s degree in history, then continued by earning his PhD in 1992 in 19th-century American history.
In an interview, he said, “I got my master’s at Drew University and I was having so much fun, I got a PhD at age 68.”
Shinn, who had moved to Scarborough, Maine in 2002, died on December 16, 2013 at the age of 90.
After a high-profile career in the investment banking world, Shinn finished his graduate studies and taught American intellectual history part-time at Drew before moving to Maine.
William Rogers G’92, associate dean of the Caspersen School, was a classmate of Shinn’s and recalled his deep love of learning, “What George was finally able to do, once he started (graduate school) was to engage his true love of grappling with intellectual and historical ideas.”
Trustee Heath McLendon said though Shinn was hugely successful in the business world, he was still down-to-earth and approachable. Rogers agreed and said he didn’t know about Shinn’s corporate background because his colleague never bragged about it.
McLendon recalled one of his most vivid memories of Shinn is seeing him dressed in a kilt, playing the bagpipes outdoors on campus. “He was very friendly and engaged,” said McLendon.
In addition to teaching at Drew, Shinn was a generous benefactor of the school. He established a special endowed fund that supports the mission and priorities of the Caspersen School and also endowed two scholarships bearing his name for graduate students. They are The George L. Shinn Scholarship, for students pursuing a master’s degree in the medical humanities and The George L. Shinn Scholarship in the Humanities, for students of modern history and literature in their dissertation year.
He was also a lead supporter of a fund honoring former English professor Merrill Skaggs to sponsor a visiting scholar series.
Shinn was born in Newark, Ohio, and after graduating from high school, enrolled Amherst College in 1945 as a pre-med major, but left his second year to join the Marine Corps, where he served as a flight instructor in Pensacola, Fla., during World War II. When the war was over, Shinn returned to Amherst and earned his bachelor’s degree in English in 1948. While a student, he met Clara “Sammie” Sampson, a Mount Holyoke student, whom he married in 1949.
Mrs. Shinn died in 2010.
After graduating from Amherst, Shinn entered the training program at Merrill Lynch in Boston and stayed for 27 years, working his way up to become its president and CEO in New York. In 1975, he joined First Boston Corporation (later Credit Suisse) as chairman and CEO.
Shinn was a trustee at Amherst for 15 years and voted to make the school co-educational in 1975. He also taught at Columbia University and was a director of the New York Times Company. He leaves a long legacy of philanthropy and has donated generously to Morristown Medical Center and been involved with the New York Philharmonic and the National Council for the Humanities.
The Shinns were longtime residents of Morristown and Manchester, Vt., before moving to the Piper Shores community in Scarborough, Maine, in 2002.
Survivors include his son, Andrew; daughters Deborah Shinn, Amy Shinn, Martha Moore and Sarah Shinn Pratt and five grandchildren.
His family will hold a memorial service to honor George Shinn in the spring.—Liz Moore, Drew Communications