TALLAHASSEE — He was a Republican statesman credited with the kind of bipartisanship that enabled him to collaborate with members of the opposite party in Fort Lauderdale’s early 2000s airport expansion, including the cellphone lot that opened in 2006 and was considered his idea.
He was credited with the cleanup of drinking water pollution in predominantly African-American Riviera Beach, including ensuring that the company responsible for the contamination paid for it. Before that city taxpayers financed removal of the cancer-causing chemicals leaked for decades by manufacturers into the city’s water supply, while in a classic case of environmental racism, Environmental Protection Agency officials dithered.
Former U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw, a longtime veteran of Congress, died Sept. 10 at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale following a lengthy battle with lung cancer, his family said in a statement. He was 74.
Shaw was born in Miami and earned degrees, including a law degree, from Stetson University while also earning a MBA from the University of Alabama.
He spent 26 years in Washington, representing Broward County and part of Palm Beach County, and was among the first in a line of Republicans who helped transform Florida from a state dominated by just one political party into the battleground state that it is today.
Shaw held positions in the city of Fort Lauderdale, including mayor, before riding into office with President Ronald Reagan in 1980. He survived several spirited challenges to his South Florida seat only to finally lose his spot during a Democratic wave in 2006.
“Clay cherished his time in the U.S. Congress representing the people of South Florida,” said his wife Emilie Shaw in a statement. “He was a devoted family man setting a fine example for our 15 grandchildren. They will always be proud of Clay’s love of country.”
One of Shaw’s standout moments was his role in sponsoring and helping shepherd in 1996 a contentious bill to reform the nation’s safety net known as welfare. He is survived by his wife Emilie, four children and 15 grandchildren.