A Life Remembered: Dave Shaul

 

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CHAMPAIGN — Dave Shaul, who worked for 37 years as a television newsman at WCIA in Champaign and both began and ended his broadcast news career at WDWS, also in Champaign, passed away Monday morning at home.

He was 75. Visitation will be held on Thursday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m at Morgan Memorial Home in Savoy. A funeral service will be held on Friday at 11 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Champaign.

"I thought he was the consummate TV newscaster, news director," said Dick Adams, who worked with Mr. Shaul at WCIA from 1963 to 1999. "I remember him saying once that he had offers to go to other markets but he thought folks in central Illinois deserved a high quality news product and he felt the need to give that to them."

John Paul, a former WCIA reporter, news anchor and news director who now teaches at the University of Illinois, called Mr. Shaul "the best mentor I've ever had.

"I've been thinking lately as I get ready to retire who's been most influential outside of family. He's always cared about every employee who worked under him and there are so many people today whose careers are dependent on Dave Shaul, either because he hired them or because he mentored them and sent them out of the nest onto other great jobs," said Paul, who succeeded Mr. Shaul as news director at WCIA.

Mr. Shaul covered his last election in November 2016, feeling well enough to work during the bout with cancer that ultimately claimed his life.

A Champaign native, Mr. Shaul attended Champaign schools and the University of Illinois, from which he graduated in 1963. His father was Verrollton C. Shaul, a longtime director of music for the Champaign school district and a local Kiwainis leader.

Both Mr. Shaul, who graduated from Champaign High School, and the late Roger Ebert, who graduated from Urbana High School, were winners of the Illinois State High School Association speech competitions.

Rick Schoell, who said he was persuaded by Mr. Shaul to lead and promote the Tom Jones Challenger League, sponsored by the Champaign-Urbana Kiwanis Club, said it was "one of the richest experiences of my life."

The league is named for the longtme WCIA sports anchor who worked with Mr. Shaul. Tom Jones lived most of his life in a wheelchair after being shot at the age of 6 in an accident.

"There's nothing false about Dave Shaul. He's one of the most genuine people I know," said Schoell. "He embodies what the league is all about: to allow people who otherwise might not have an opportunity to experence baseball and pure joy to give them an environment to do that."

Schoell said that Mr. Shaul announced many of the Challenger League games at AMBUCS Park in northeast Urbana.

"He brought that wonderful rich, vibrant voice to the games and was able to capture those moments with these players, whether it was somebody getting a hit or getting from first to second, making a play in the field. He was a great observer, able to capture the essence of an experience," Schoell said.

Mr. Shaul began his career at WCIA in 1962. He has served as news anchor, producer and the news director. He did play by play of Illinois basketball games. He was instrumental in opening WCIA bureaus in Springfield and in Decatur, and oversaw the transition from film to videotape to live and satellite feeds.

He was honored with the Associated Press Mark Twain Lifetime Achievement Award, named to the Eastern Illinois University Hall of Fame and designated a lifetime member of the Illinois News Broadcasters Association.

 

Reporter

Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is mschenk@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).

Columnist

Tom Kacich is a columnist and the author of Tom's Mailbag at The News-Gazette. His column appears Sundays. His email is tkacich@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@tkacich).