Tribute by Morgan McGinley



Charles E. Shain, Connecticut College president, memorial serviceRemarks by Morgan McGinley, Editorial Page Editor, The Day

There was no mystery to Charles Shain's success and joy in life. Besides his intellect and character, he was just plain fun to be near. I mean, whom would you rather be around? Richard Milhous Nixon or Charles Shain?

People gravitated naturally to Shain because he was smart, witty and, in more relaxed moments, loved to kick up his heels. Listen carefully now and you can still hear him singing "Walking my baby back home" as he left a party.

But far beyond his penchant for enjoying a story or a raucous good time, Charles Shain had a well-hewn serious side that brought enduring gifts to the tables of Connecticut College and the larger community.

First, and it colored everything he did, was his affinity for people and his kindness to others, no matter their station. He listened attentively when others spoke and that quality led to honest communication that made easier his work at Conn and in the city.

He rarely used his fine intellect for purposes of impressing others. He understood that a good idea doesn't require pretense. It simply works.

Charles Shain was able to use these gifts in effective and unobtrusive ways that made him especially skillful in bringing people together.

He had carved out principles he would not compromise. His integrity proved as rock solid as the ocean cliffs of his beloved Maine, Because people could count on him, they did so with unswerving confidence and, as a result, good things happened.

Though Charles Shain did not play a direct public role in the broader life of the larger southeastern Connecticut region, he had a disproportionate influence on those events in another fashion.

His greatest influence came from 21 years as a director and trustee of The Day. In that role, he was able to live vicariously the daily life of a writer and he loved this experience. His pal, Attorney Francis F. McGuire, recruited him to The Day board, and the two liberal Democrats set out to make the editorial pages of the newspaper, shall we say more enlightened, in their viewpoints.

The two struggled to win the paper's endorsement of favored Democratic candidates, especially in national elections, and sometimes they succeeded.

The larger good of this partnership, though, was a renewed attention to making the news and opinion pages vigorous reporters and commentators, respectively, regarding the important local, state and national issues.

In part because of Shain's consistent attention to the quality and strength of the paper's content, The Day became a much better newspaper.

The Day was soon recognized for its fearlessness in pursuing news stories and its courage in commenting on public issues. I can make these remarks modestly, for Kenneth Grube, my predecessor, was running the department for most of that time.

Charles Shain loved good writing, reporting and storytelling — especially the latter. His strong sense of ethics and his concern for sensible public policy helped to hold the feet of The Day's management, editors and reporters to the fire.

I suspect Charles never dreamed that he would have the opportunity to help shape the quality of the local newspaper and hence the quality of life for the region. But once there, he loved the task and he felt great pride in making The Day a better publication and southeastern Connecticut a better place.

So it is, that I feel confident that the poet William Butler Yeats must have been thinking of qualities such as those of Charles Shain when he said:

When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything,
Everything we look upon is blest.

Bless you, Charles.