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Globe South People

A scientist's life story

Keith O’Connell and Christopher McGurik Keith O’Connell and Christopher McGurik
By Paul E. Kandarian
August 7, 2011

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Eugene “Pete’’ Shaw and his wife, Betty, are well known around Hingham, where they’ve lived for many years and worked for such causes as the Lions Club. But many people may not know about Pete’s long and storied history of medical research in the name of his country and in the private sector.

Now they can, since Shaw has released a book about his life, “Up Through the Ranks,’’ detailing his service in the Army, which included seeing action as a medic in the Battle of the Bulge, and his later work helping develop a test for bacterial infection in infants.

He’s not making a lot of money selling the book, because, he said with a laugh, “I’ve been giving most of them away.’’ But whatever the volume does make will be directed toward the Lions Club’s activities, such as its annual funding of the town’s Fourth of July fireworks, and to the local Veterans of Foreign Wars club.

Shaw, who recently celebrated his 86th birthday, grew up in Iowa, and met Betty O’Brien, a Hingham native, when he worked at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where she was an occupational therapist. They have been married for 55 years.

Shaw worked his way up through the Army ranks, eventually becoming a lieutenant colonel, and spent many years in the medical research profession there. He said he saw the inside of the Kremlin three times during his career, and did hepatitis research at Walter Reed, working alongside colleagues who would eventually become Nobel Prize winners.

He helped free concentration camp prisoners in Germany at the end of World War II, served as a medic in Korea, and in civilian life worked for Johnson & Johnson and Carter Wallace, a pharmaceutical company in New Jersey.

Shaw also worked with state Senator Robert Hedlund to create the Massachusetts Medal of Liberty, awarded to the next of kin of anyone in the military from the state who was killed in action, or died from injuries received in battle.

“It was his idea, he came to me with it,’’ said Hedlund, who as a boy delivered papers to Shaw’s house. “He’s been very dedicated to veteran issues, and active in his community in all ways.’’

And all of it is in his book. Shaw is in the process of writing another, which he joked “will be much shorter, around 25 pages,’’ about his part in helping nine research scientists escape from behind the Iron Curtain.

There is no marketing push for the book, Shaw said, which is not available in bookstores. For a copy, call him at 781-749-2491.

PLYMOUTH GALLERY FEATURES TWO LOCAL MEN: Robert Weinstein of Easton and John Frederickson Arens, formerly of Easton and now of Needham, are hosting a two-artist show starting Tuesday at the Plymouth Center for the Arts, which the artist friends said is the beginning of their collaboration.

Weinstein, a TV and film director originally from New York who taught at Emerson College and Northeastern University, and Arens, a Catholic priest who teaches at St. Sebastian’s in Needham, met a few years ago at a gallery Arens owned in Easton, where he sold many of Weinstein’s paintings. Weinstein said he and Arens are “driven by an inner energy that spills into our landscapes, city scenes, and human subjects.’’

The artists’ show runs through Aug. 22. The Plymouth Center for the Arts is located at 11 North St.

BC HIGH STUDENTS MAKE THE CUT: Kyle Jackson of Bridgewater, Jake Ransford of Canton, Taylor Golz of Cohasset, Joseph McNamara of Hull, and Andrew Nader of Milton, juniors at Boston College High School, were picked from more than 2,800 applicants nationwide to participate this summer in the National Economics for Leaders program. The young men will attend conferences and seminars at various colleges and universities, including Vanderbilt University, the College of William and Mary, and the University of California in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. They were chosen by a Foundation for Teaching Economics committee at the University of California at Berkeley, which admits 300 students a year to the program.

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Christopher McGurik of Norwell was named director of financial services at the O’Connell Insurance Group in Boston, run by Keith O’Connell, also a Norwell resident. McGurik is also varsity boys’ lacrosse coach at Norwell High School. O’Connell recently participated in the Haymakers for Hope charity boxing event, to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund. Michael J. Wilcox (inset) of Weymouth, a business development officer at South Shore Saving Bank’s Braintree office, was named to the board of directors at the Arc of the South Shore, which provides services and advocacy for children and adults with cognitive, physical, and other developmental disabilities. A longtime volunteer with Arc, Wilcox will develop a pilot program to teach financial concepts to those served by the agency, and serve as speaker at its 2011 legislative breakfast. Wilcox’s sons, Matty and Anthony, have both benefited from Arc services, he said.

Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at Kandarian@globe.com.