Durango resident Dr. Harrold S. Shipps, Jr., 98, died in Durango, on the morning of August 2, 2021, of natural causes. Dr. Shipps often reflected with pleasure on his two separate careers, military and academic, and his service as an elected member of the Durango City Council.
He was born to Harrold and Mary Wimberly Shipps in Macon, Georgia, on October 4, 1922 and graduated from Fort Valley High School, in Fort Valley, Georgia, in 1940. He attended Spring Hill College, near Mobile, Alabama, from 1940 to 1943, but entered the U.S. Army a few months before completing the requirements for a B.A. degree at the college. Serving as an enlisted man in the U.S. Army, he saw service in England and France between 1944 and 1946. Discharged from the Army in the grade of Technical Sergeant, he took advantage of the GI Bill to attend Bridgewater Teachers College from which his first wife, Mary Louise (Kremp) Shipps had graduated with distinction in 1945. They were married in January of 1947.
After graduating from Bridgewater, he became an English teacher at Orleans High School in the Cape Cod town of Orleans, Massachusetts, where he and Mary lived from 1948 to the spring of 1952. During the summer months, he took graduate courses at Bridgewater and obtained an M.Ed. degree. After the United States became involved in the Korean Conflict in 1950, he applied for a direct commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force Reserve in 1951, and in the spring of 1952 he began his career as an Air Force officer.
Following training at Lowry Air Force Base, he was assigned to a tactical reconnaissance squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, where he became the squadron adjutant. In the summer of 1953, his squadron and the other elements of the 66th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing moved to Sembach Air Base, Germany, where he remained for four years, accompanied by his wife and young children. When he, Mary, and their children returned to the United States in 1957, Harrold was assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff Message Center, where, as a captain, he served in an administrative capacity for two years, after which he was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy, near Colorado Springs, where he served as an administrative officer at the Air Force Academy Library. Following a four-year tour of duty at the Air Force Academy, he attended the Air Force Command and Staff College, at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. While there, he also obtained a M.S. degree in Public Administration from George Washington University. He was promoted to the rank of major during the summer of 1964.
The Air Force then re-stationed him to the Air Force Academy for an additional duty tour - this time for five years, where he initially served administratively in the office of the Dean of the Faculty. The Air Force subsidized Harrold's attendance at the University of Denver school of Librarianship in 1966, and he received a M.A. in library science in 1967. During this tour of duty, the Air Force allowed him to complete his Ph.D. at the University of Denver in 1969, after which he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Shipps accepted a new assignment to the Pentagon, in the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In 1970, he retired from the Air Force and accepted a position as Director of Public Services the Fort Lewis College Library. He remained in that position until his retirement as a professor in 1983.
Dr. Shipps then went to work on a part-time basis as a paralegal at the law firm of Maynes, Bradford, Shipps and Sheftel, where his eldest son, Tom, was a partner. Additionally, he and his wife, Mary, spent several hours each week as volunteer workers with the Durango Food Bank. In 1988, Shipps became a candidate for election to the Durango City Council. He was elected, and he served on the Council for four years (1989-93), including a one-year term as mayor of Durango.
Harrold's wife, Mary, passed away after an extended illness in 1997, a few months after she and Harrold had celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Their children (Mary Ellen Siebert, a school teacher in Connecticut; Thomas, a partner in a Durango law firm; Frank, a Catholic priest serving in Washington, D.C.; and Karl, a retired U.S. Navy officer, living in New Carrolton, Maryland); attended the fiftieth wedding anniversary ceremonies in January of that year.
In September 1998, Harrold Shipps married his second wife, the former Roberta Schilling, with whom he had worked as a fellow staff member at the Fort Lewis College Library. They shared a wonderful marriage until Roberta died in 2016. Harrold is survived by his four children, five grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
A funeral service for Dr. Shipps will be held at St. Columba Catholic Church, at 10:00 a.m., Friday, August 6, 2021. This will be followed by a private family interment ceremony at Greenmount Cemetery.