Shaun 1952 – 2018

Born in Plattsburgh, NY on February 13, 1952 Shaun was the seventh child of ItaMary O’Grady Heffernan (an Irish citizen to the day she died) and Thomas True Heffernan (his middle name came from his mother whose was a member of the True family of Saranac and True Brook). He was preceded in death by his parents and four sisters: Marie Johnson, Patricia Nortell, ItaMary Yuncker and Joan Patterson. Shaun is survived by his wife Amanda Palmer; sister Gail Wilson; brother Thomas Heffernan and wife Charlotte; and numerous nieces and nephews. Shaun had a difficult home life and was fortunate to be “adopted” by some local families – most notably the Engelhart, Hartnett, and Russo families. Thank You All.

As a child he was the light in the room for his mother and often recalled his joy in impersonating Elvis for her. This may have influenced his recent purchase of a beautiful pair of blue suede shoes.

Shaun worked many wild jobs over the years including crab fishing in Alaska, oil field ‘swamper’ in Wyoming, bartender, roadie for various friends bands (you know who you are!), and waiter in San Francisco. Throughout those years his passion for photography was a driving force. In 1985 he quit alcohol and drugs, choosing instead a positive life in pursuit of his art. In 1990 he met his soulmate, Amanda Palmer, at San Francisco State University – almost eloping just five days after their first date. In 1994, they moved to his beloved North Country, where they married in 1996. Shaun worked in photography, exhibit design, and ran a thriving card company, Follow Your Bliss cards. For nine years, Shaun and Amanda operated their own gallery and espresso bar, The Oasis in downtown Plattsburgh.

Shaun was an award winning photographer with hundreds of thousands of images spanning five decades in his photographic library. One of his great loves was environmental portraiture. Shaun often said that a portrait was the record of the interaction between photographer and subject – and his images of people reflected the love, compassion and positivity he brought to ALL of his human interactions.

Shaun was a gifted photographer – a master of light. He wove it through his imagery as though with a painted brush. Yet his photography evoked a deeper experience; his photographs were a celebration. He thrust into every image the desire to express joy – to recognize and share the gifts of our planet, the bounty of our surroundings.

Sometimes his images were whimsical to elicit a smile or a chuckle; his portraits provided a glimpse into the inner being. His landscapes captured the vibrancy of a day awakening to a symphony of colors and with the same precision he captured the stillness of a night sky and the mystery of a distant moon.

Shaun was a keen observer. His photographs not only translated the majesty of the landscape but also hidden treasures so often overlooked – the intricate detail of crystals left behind by an evening frost or the delicate petals of a wildflower lifting its face to the warming sun. Shaun was a tremendous lover of music and musicians and had a keen ear for nuance. One of his more remarkable gifts was his uncanny ability to marry music with his images to produce breathtaking and awe-inspiring slide shows whose synergy far exceeded the sum of its parts.

Recognized by National Geographic as a prize winning photographer Shaun’s most recent project was to document birds of our National Parks. Just as his technical skills enabled his capture of fleeting moments, his watchful patience was rewarded with close-up glimpses of those beautiful creatures. But it was his innate desire to express joy that allowed a more intimate portrayal of these rare moments. Birds flutter as flamingo dancers, ponds shimmer with mirrored stately poses and when we look into a hawk’s eye we see our own reflection.

Shaun invites us to stand with him and see what he sees: Wonderment. His magic was not just his technical ability to capture the light: the light within him infused each photograph with inner beauty and revealed a deeper understanding of our world of riches.

Shaun was an inspiration to his fellow photographers and visual artists: his generosity of heart enabled revelatory moments of bliss for a wide world of friends and acquaintances. His legacy will be cherished; we have lost a special voice.

For the last four years Shaun was following his bliss by wandering the United States and taking photographs in many of his most favorite places… along with cultivating new treasured spots. He was overjoyed to have captured photographs of numerous scenes and birds that he had envisioned for years. His plan to “cultivate serendipity” resulted in some lasting and very loving friendships with people met along the way. He knew he was a lucky man, he felt it in his heart and expressed it to those around him frequently.

Shaun loved biking and hiking. A friend named his bike “the green ghost” many years ago and it stuck. Biking was a daily activity for him right up until his last morning when he took a favorite route and rode to a spot he dubbed “the dream spot”. The route stopped at an overpass to the Northway where he and his wife would ride and dream of upcoming travels. He shot a video on his way home and sent it to his wife. (Look for the video below)

Shaun had a devilishly delightful sense of humor, bawdy at times, but always delivered with style, charm, and a twinkle in his eye. Shaun’s positivity, strength, and desire to always be a better human will be sorely missed by his wife and others. He would want to be remembered most for always reaching out to those around him and offering his hugs, love and joy. Hug each other. Into the mystic he goes, leaving the world a much better place for his having passed through it.

Through the end of July some of his work can be seen at the Peru Free Library in Peru, NY. Cremation has been left to Walker Funeral Home and there will be a celebration of his life held in the North Country in 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Responses to “Shaun 1952 – 2018”

  1. Ginny Brady Says:

    I feel privileged to have known Shaun – his talents will continue to bring me joy. His compassion will always be an example to me.

  2. Beautifully done, Amanda. Thanks for sharing this videos… precious.

  3. Sherri Ramseyer Says:

    So sorry to hear of Shaun’s passing. I hope you are doing ok Amanda.

  4. Jane Mackintosh Says:

    Amanda, this is wonderful, thank you. Other words escape me at the moment, it’s all too much to take in.

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