Memorial service will honor decorated Vietnam veteran Gary Shipston
Memorial services for Gary Shipston are at 4 p.m. Friday (Dec. 14) at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 16290 Arnold Drive, Sonoma.
A decorated Vietnam veteran, Gary died Dec. 9 after an 18-month battle with leukemia. He underwent a stem cell transplant in late June and spent the past five months at Stanford Hospital and Clinic in Palo Alto.
The Sonoma community rallied around Gary and his family during his illness. Donors waited more than an hour (or two) at a blood drive in his honor last spring. Both he and his wife, Jennifer Shipston, are registered nurses with a wide circle of friends throughout Sonoma Valley.
They received an outpouring of support during Gary’s stay at Stanford.
Known as a “homebody,” it was fitting that Gary was able to return home from Stanford just a week before his death. He died at home surrounded by his family. He was 62.
The Shipstons met while working on different units at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Southern California. They moved to Sonoma in 1989.
Gary was born in Niagara Falls, N.Y. on Jan. 27, 1950. He was raised in both Niagara Falls and Akron, Ohio.
Gary was a graduate of Long Beach State University. He earned a degree in anthropology before switching professions and obtaining a nursing degree.
He worked at North Coast Rehabilitation before joining the nursing staff at Sonoma Developmental Center. Known for both his skills and compassion as a nurse, he saved at least one patient and was bestowed with an appreciative “Saved the Doctor’s Ass” award.
When not at work, Gary loved jazz, reading, good wine and going to the movies with friends. He loved spending time at home with his family.
A modest and unassuming man, few knew he earned two bronze stars for his service to his country in Vietnam.
A proud veteran, he was a member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars in Sonoma Valley.
Gary was the proud father of Melissa Shipston, 19; Mark Shipston, 15; and Megan Shipston, 10. In addition to his wife and children, he is survived by his mother, Lorraine Shipston of Paradise; his brother and sister-in-law, Greg and Elise Shipston of Lancaster, S.C.; his sister and brother-in-law, Lisa and Jim Devito of Austin, Texas; and his nephew, Austin Shipston, and niece, Brittany Devito. He was predeceased by his father, Clark Price Shipston.
Gary also leaves many friends who will remember him “just as a good guy. That’s what people would say,” his wife said.
Donations may be made to a trust fund for his children in care of Jenny Shipston at Redwood Empire Credit Union.
Jennifer Shipston said the family is grateful for the outpouring of support from friends, deacons at their church (St. Andrew’s) and from her co-workers at the Sonoma Valley Hospital Home Care Program.
– Dianne Reber Hart