Remembering The Late Paul Shockey
Quiet, unassuming, dignity – these are the words I use to describe one of the greatest men I have ever had the pleasure to work with in my 44-year career. That soft-spoken, laid-back, brilliant minded, generous man is Paul Shockey. When we think of the innovative designs produced in the early years at Grove Manufacturing and JLG, most of us immediately think of the Grove brothers, John and Dwight. In many instances it was Paul who took the innovative concepts for new products and with his engineering expertise molded them into safe, reliable equipment that made the two companies runaway successes.
Growing up on a farm in Ringgold, Md., Paul knew he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life tending to pigs and chickens on the family farm. After graduating from Smithsburg High School, he started his career in the apprentice program at Landis Tool. During
World War II Paul served in the U.S. Navy. When the war ended he obtained a degree in mechanical engineering from Duke University. He was working for Fairchild Industries on the C-123K Provider when in late 1958 he learned that layoffs were imminent due to the production phase out of the aircraft.
In January of 1959 when Paul showed up for an interview at Grove Manufacturing with John Grove, John whisked him away on an airplane trip to New York City to troubleshoot a problem with a crane. The two men returned home late that evening. John, impressed with Paul’s expertise in helping resolve the problem, offered Paul the job as chief engineer at Grove. Paul recalled, “John got a whole day’s work from me, and I wasn’t even on the payroll.” Then in his usual modest way, he smiled and said, “But John did buy me lunch.” Paul would spend most of the rest of his career by John’s side.
When John Grove founded JLG in 1969 he chose Paul as his partner, saying, “I enlisted the help of Paul Shockey because he was the best and most trusted engineer I knew.” In spite of the risks, Paul proved his loyalty to John by accepting the position of financial secretary in the new business. This change would be no small undertaking for Paul and his wife, Anna. After selling their home and cashing in their investments, they had to take out a loan to raise the money to buy into the company, and Paul’s salary would be half of what he earned at Grove. Anna and Paul rented a small home on the western edge of McConnellsburg. Paul would spend the rest of his years at JLG living side by side with the employees who worked for him.
I first met Paul in the summer of 1970. While on summer break from college, I spent my days in the basement of Fulton Industries, soon to be JLG, helping produce drawings for a new product – an aerial platform that John and Paul were developing. Back in those days I didn’t see much of Paul. Most of his time was spent designing barges for subcontract work that kept a cash flow for the fledgling company. Paul never shirked any job that would keep employees working, and it never bothered him that he was not the one in the limelight.
Over the years at Grove and JLG, Paul was responsible for many innovative and unique product designs. From firetruck ladders to an 80-foot pedestal-mounted lift at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii and to track-mounted lifts developed to service dirigibles used for detecting illegal aliens, at the Mexican border. Paul’s ability to combine his engineering experience with cutting-edge technology kept the two companies in the forefront of product design.
And how did the financial secretary spend his spare time in the evening in those early days at Fulton Industries? After donning work pants and a T-shirt, Paul went to the local beer distributorship where he spent his evenings unloading and stacking cases of beer. Fortunately Paul’s interest was in the exercise he obtained after a stressful day at his desk and not in the amber liquid in the cans. Eventually Paul traded in shuffling cases of beer for boxes of books when he accepted a position on the Fulton County Library Board of Directors. Thus began years of service and support to many local organizations.
Paul and Anna purchased the Duffey house which they converted into the local library. When this building overflowed with donated books, Paul and Anna once again stepped forward, assisting in purchasing the former American Legion building and renovating it into a modern library with over 9,000 cardholders. The couple also contributed to modern lighting at the McConnellsburg High School and other community fundraisers. In the most ambitious of these, construction of the new Fulton County Medical Center, Paul again shunned the limelight when he insisted that his name would not be put on the donors’ plaque in the lobby. Instead, the second donor on that plaque is simply listed as anonymous.
Throughout my years at JLG I would occasionally have the pleasure of working with Paul on special design projects. Paul’s easy going personality made it a joy to work with him. I will always appreciate the knowledge he shared with me, and I have used the engineering principles he taught me in many of the designs I have worked on over the years.
As the years rolled by I saw less of Paul as more and more of his time was devoted to the management end of JLG. However, success did not change Paul. Whenever we met he maintained those down-to-earth qualities that endeared him with all the employees at JLG. At Paul’s retirement party on January 27, 1989, John Grove’s admiration and fondness for his loyal partner was evident when he stated, “He is a dear friend whose counsel and friendship over the years is deeply appreciated.”
After his retirement from JLG, Paul and Anna relocated to Greencastle, and Paul plunged into assisting local organizations in that area. Paul contributed once again to the local library, the Besore library. Paul felt there was a need to tell the story of Greencastle and its niche in the founding and development of our state and country. He and Anna provided the money to purchase a historic home on South Ridge Avenue that facilitated the beginning of the Allison- Antrim Museum. Paul was in the process of restoring his boyhood home, the family farm in Ringgold, Md., when he broke his hip. From that point on his deteriorating health prevented further philanthropic efforts.
In 2008 Paul’s son, Ken, and his wife, Bonnie, took over the reins of Paul’s desire to graciously help local nonprofit organizations. The Paul K. and Anna E. Shockey Foundation was established that year with Ken and Bonnie administering the funds. Since then the foundation has supported numerous projects, including: continued support of the Fulton County Medical Center, the Fulton County Library and the Besore Memorial Library; a new roof on the Waynesboro Historical Society; the four square garden at Renfrew Museum; sound and lighting upgrades and rebuilding the grand piano at the Greencastle Antrim High School; and steeple repairs at Saint John’s Lutheran Church.
Paul’s legacy will live on every time a construction worker moves the controls and elevates himself into the air or operates a Grove/Manitowoc crane. His legacy will live on every time a person in McConnellsburg or Greencastle checks out a book at the library. His legacy will live on in future generations that come to the Allison Antrim Museum to learn about the history of our area, and his legacy will live on through the countless other organizations that he has supported. His legacy will live on when we remember how gentle, patient, laid-back, soft-spoken, good-hearted, curiosity driven, generous Paul Shockey touched our lives. Thank you, Paul, we will miss that devilish little smile of yours.
Editor’s Note: Gerry Lute, nephew of John Grove’s wife, Cora, is author of “The Life and Legacy of John L. Grove” published in 2006. The book is a personal account and biography of Grove and his influence on the growth of Grove Manufacturing and the founding and development of JLG Industries Inc. in Mc- Connellsburg. Lute work-ed as an engineer for both Grove Manufacturing and JLG.