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Legacy to Support Historical Education Building

Anne and Bob Shaw

Childhood memories and knowing what it takes to maintain a historic building inspired Bob Shaw ’63, MS ’64 and Anne Meads Shaw ’64 to create a legacy at Cornell Botanic Gardens. Their planned gift will establish an endowment fund to support the upkeep of our Lewis Education Building, as well as the horticultural collections on Comstock Knoll.

Bob Shaw grew up in Forest Home, on the outskirts of the Cornell campus. He and his brothers attended the nearby elementary school, where Bob remembers playing among the tall pines on Comstock Knoll, sledding down the hillside in the winter, and playing baseball in the school yard in the summer.  Their parents worked at the university: R. William Shaw PhD ’34 was a professor and longtime chair of the astronomy department, and Charlotte Throop Shaw MA ’36 worked in the music department.

After the school closed in 1964, the building became the headquarters for Cornell Plantations. The playground was dismantled, but the gravel yard remained for ten years before the Robison Herb Garden was built there. Today the old school is home to the Botanic Gardens’ education and visitor services staff, and is named for our first executive director, Richard Lewis.

Bob and Anne first started making annual gifts to Plantations in memory of his mother, who enjoyed seeing our horticultural collections and gardens develop. As their 50th reunions were approaching, they began thinking about how they might do more to create a permanent source of support.

The Shaws decided to add to the charitable remainder unitrust they had already established at Cornell, and named the Botanic Gardens as a second beneficiary. They are receiving income payments from the trust for their lifetimes, and when the trust terminates the remainder will be divided to support the College of Engineering and to establish the Robert and Anne Shaw Botanic Gardens Endowment.  The payout from their endowment will provide funding in perpetuity to maintain or improve the Lewis Building and the pathways, stairs, summer house, and other infrastructure on Comstock Knoll. The funds may also be used for other landscape improvements or enhance the Knoll’s botanical collections.

“The Lewis building and the properties around it were an important part of my early years,” said Bob. “Anne and I want to be sure that the funds are there to maintain and preserve them over the years ahead.”

For more information about how you can create your own legacy at Cornell Botanic Gardens, click here or contact Lynn Swain at 607-255-7416 or