(John) Burke Shipley, 97, a resident of Oak Park since 1966, died peacefully on April 7, 2021. Born in New York City in 1923, he was a proud alumni of one of the nation’s first progressive schools, The Little Red School House in Greenwich Village. World War II interrupted his university studies. As he was about to ship out with his unit to France, acute appendicitis sent him to the hospital instead. Upon recovery, he was sent to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, but he vowed to make it to France someday. 

After the war, he continued his studies at Chapel Hill (University of North Carolina) followed by his PhD at Columbia University in New York City, which brought him to London (UK). There he met his future wife, a lovely French demoiselle in a restaurant they both frequented. They married in London in 1953, and after settling in NYC, they made many trips to France with their family over the years.

Dr. Shipley was a professor of English at the University of Illinois Chicago for over 30 years, joining when UIC was still located at Navy Pier. He was known for being friendly, demanding, yet fair, and he kept in touch with many of his students over the years. When he wasn’t burning the midnight oil grading papers, he enjoyed quiet contemplation of his voluminous stamp collection. In addition to serving as editor of the Abstract of English Studies for many decades, he continued researching and writing until his death. Burke is remembered and will be missed for his beautifully and thoughtfully crafted letters to family and friends.

A longtime member of the Oak Park Friends Meeting, he was honored by them as one who epitomized Quaker practice in action, with his longtime advocacy of Quaker Peace Testimony and conscientious objection to war. He was very actively involved in the abolition of the death penalty in Illinois, traveling multiple times to the state capitol, until it was finally abolished in 2011.

Burke is survived by his wife, Nicole; his three daughters, their spouses, and three grandchildren. 

A memorial service will take place at a later date.

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