A tribute to professor Rick Shale

YSU lost a distinguished and dedicated former faculty member when Dr. Richard Shale passed away last month. Rick was a member of the English Department faculty, coming to YSU in 1976 and staying until his retirement in 2011. Rick taught graduate and undergraduate classes in writing, film studies and screenwriting, and he was known for engaging his students with insightful stories about actors, films, and filmmaking. He published a definitive catalog of the Academy Awards, and his predictions of Oscar winners each spring were uncannily accurate. Rick Shale received three distinguished professor awards during his career, and in 2018 he was honored with YSU’s most prestigious lifetime award, the Heritage Award. 

Rick Shale was also an avid Penguin fan. He had season football tickets for many years, sitting on the 50-yard line high in the stands below the Press Box, where he could see all the action. He supported and regularly attended theater and dance productions, and he was a longtime English Festival volunteer and donor. He supported excellence through his career-long involvement with YSU’s chapter of the National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, and he also served on its national Board of Directors.

Outside of his YSU accomplishments, Dr. Shale made an enormous impact upon the Mahoning Valley. He served on the Board of Directors of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society, the Board of Park Commissioners for Mill Creek MetroParks and as President of the Mahoning Valley Watercolor Society. He actively supported the Butler Institute of American Art and had just completed a biography of its founder, Joseph G. Butler Jr. Rick hosted walking tours of historical sites in downtown Youngstown and kayak trips along the lakes in Mill Creek Park. He was a popular speaker in the region, giving talks about Idora Park, Youngstown’s famous amusement park, and he co-authored a popular book of photos and historical information about Idora.

As his department chair for 14 years and his colleague for more than 30, I came to know Rick Shale’s uncommon decency and enthusiasm. He treated students and colleagues alike with respect, and he was one of the best friends a colleague could have.

A memorial service will be held for Dr. Richard Shale at the Butler North building of the Butler Institute of American Art on Saturday, March 26, at 10:00 a.m.


Gary Salvner

Emeritus Professor, Department of English