The Fraternity was notified that Brother Rolland H. Shaw passed away on Saturday morning, October 5, 2019, at the age of 81. Dr. Shaw was born June 15, 1938, in Eupora, Mississippi, to Rolland and Sarah Shaw, and grew up in Greenville, where he graduated high school in 1956 Brother Shaw was initiated into Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity on April 14, 1959, as a charter member of the Theta Kappa chapter at Mississippi College. Rolland received a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Mississippi College in 1960 and earned a Master of Choral Music degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1963, and his Doctorate in Choral Music from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1975.

Dr. Shaw served the Fraternity as a Faculty Advisor for many years and answered the Fraternity’s call for volunteer leaders on several occasions during his long service to Sinfonia. Brother Shaw served as Deputy Governor in 1975, and as Province Governor from 1976-1982, in Province 38, then containing Arkansas and part of Tennessee. He was also appointed Deputy Governor from 1983-1984, and later as Province Governor from 1988-1994, in Province 24 in Mississippi.

Dr. Shaw also served on the National Executive Committee as Chairman of the Council of Province Governors from 1988-1991.

Dr. Rolland Shaw presenting at the 2014 Summer Leadership Institute.

In his more than sixty years of service to Sinfonia, Dr. Shaw would grow to become “the musical conscience” of the Fraternity in many ways. He conducted his first National Assembly chorus in 1979 at New Harmony, Indiana, and would go on to conduct at National Conventions for many years.

Director of Musical Activities Brian M. Stratton paid special tribute to Dr. Shaw following the Men of Song concert at the 56th National Convention in New Orleans, stating “you have been my inspiration and guide for what has become the Men of Song chorus tradition, and the father of expanded musical programming at Fraternity Events. Your devotion and commitment to musical excellence has given hundreds of brothers the opportunity to be active participants in Sinfonia’s choruses. For this, I thank you.”

Dr. Shaw also served as Chairman of the Centennial Songbook Revision Committee from 1995-1997, and his work is a living legacy for all Brothers.

Brother Shaw was a tireless advocate for music, who persevered with grace and patience in his efforts to increase the musical content of National Events and raise the quality of singing in all Sinfonians for more than 40 years. Any Brother who was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to sing in a chorus conducted by Dr. Shaw, or to have attended one of his workshops or master classes, would experience immediate improvements in his vocal technique, and come away with lasting and valuable lessons on how to approach proper rehearsal and performance of vocal music. The Fraternity’s efforts to increase the musicality of National Conventions and to provide significant musical content in both programs and educational offerings are a direct result of the inspiration provided by Brother Rolland H. Shaw.

Brother Shaw’s positive spirit, verve, and style were welcome additions to any Fraternity gathering. His smile could disarm the most serious tensions, and his wit and grace uplifted the spirits of anyone who came in contact with him. His mastery of choral music and his insistence on the highest standards of musicianship were unparalleled. Brother Rolland Shaw was truly a “manly musician and musicianly man.”

President Mark Lichtenberg noted Dr. Shaw’s passing in his opening remarks at the 2019 National Founder’s Day observance on October 6 and said, “Many Brothers will remember Rolland as THE step sing conductor at events across the country for many, many years. I remember him as a man who was always willing to offer a smile and a hand of friendship to any Brother. His wise advice was always offered but never pushed, and was very, very appreciated. Dr. Rolland Shaw was a true Sinfonian, a Brother Exemplar.”

Brother Shaw is survived by his wife of 61 years, Beverly Ponder Shaw, of Ridgeland, Mississippi, and his sons, David N. Shaw (Kappa Eta Chapter – Arkansas Tech 1980), and Dr. John R. Shaw (Kappa Eta Chapter – Arkansas Tech 1983), and his daughter, Anne (Shaw) Sligar, five grandchildren, David Shaw, Erin Shaw, Chris Shaw (Eta-Omicron Chapter – CCM -Cincinnati 2012), Stephen Shaw and Matthew Sligar and one great-grandchild. Visitation will be held on Thursday, October 10, 2019, at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, 5400 Old Canton Rd, Jackson, MS 39211, at 2:00 pm, with a Requiem Eucharist to follow at the Church at 3:00 pm.

The Fraternity extends its deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to Beverly and all the members of the Shaw family in their time of loss.

Requiescat in pace.

Rolland and Beverly Shaw


October 10, 2019 at 2:00 PM
St. Philip’s Episcopal Church
5400 Old Canton Road

Jackson, Mississippi 39211

Requiem Eucharist

October 10, 2019 at 3:00 PM
St. Philip’s Episcopal Church
5400 Old Canton Road

Jackson, Mississippi 39211