YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – Dr. Richard Allen Shale, 75, died Wednesday, February 2, 2022, at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital from complications of a long illness.

Known to many as “Rick,” he was born January 9, 1947, to Don and Virginia Shale at Northside Hospital, Youngstown.

Both his parents and his grandparents preceded him in death.

Rick attended Boardman schools, graduating from Boardman High School in 1965. He earned a B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

For most of his career, Rick served as a faculty member in the Department of English at Youngstown State University. He taught and developed courses in writing, film and screenwriting, teaching and co-teaching both undergraduate and graduate classes. Rick received three Distinguished Professor Awards during his career at YSU, retiring in 2011. In 2018, he received the University’s Heritage Award for his extensive and long service to the university and broader community. That same year, he was nominated for and subsequently received, the National Eagle Scout Association’s Outstanding Eagle Scout Award.

Rick was also a prolific author, co-author and community speaker. Most of his publications, talks and community-service activities brought to life elements of the larger community that Rick, like so many of his students and residents of the Mahoning Valley and surrounding counties, loved so much, Idora Park: The Last Ride of Summer (co-authored with Charles Jacques, Jr.); Historic Mill Creek Park (co-authored with Carol Potter); Joseph G. Butler, Jr. (a biography forthcoming soon); the Butler Institute of American Art; the Mahoning Valley Historical Society; other area historical societies and so many more cultural treasures of the region and beyond.

Rick was a kind and generous person who served on numerous boards and committees during the past four decades, including (among many) the Board of Directors of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society; Managing Trustee of the Benjamin Franklin Wirt Trust; President of the Mahoning Valley Watercolor Society; the Board of Directors and North Central Regional Vice President of the National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi; the Board of Park Commissioners for Mill Creek MetroParks and the YSU Heritage Award Committee. He was also an officer and active member of YSU’s Chapter 143 of the National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and a strong supporter of the YSU English Festival.

Rick also experienced a fulfilling social and “non-work” life. He regularly attended musical performances, as well as art exhibits at the Butler and other museums. He relished tailgating, watching YSU and University of Michigan football games and attending NASCAR races with friends. He explored genealogy and traced his family’s roots. Rick excelled at photography and watercolor painting. He loved walking, hiking, or kayaking in Mill Creek Park, Fellows Riverside Gardens and elsewhere. He embraced travel in the US and abroad, often with friends and/or participants in WYSU-FM’s sponsored trips to other countries. Rick treasured visiting longtime friends, wherever they lived-and kept extensive journals documenting every trip or vacation he took.

Rick remained active in his church until the COVID pandemic and complications from lung cancer made it impossible for him to attend. He was most recently a member of Disciples Christian Church in Boardman. 

Although Rick had no siblings, children, or surviving close relatives, his memory will live on through his publications and in the hearts and minds of his friends, colleagues and students. 

Rick’s many friends thank the neighbors, caregivers, doctors, nurses and other professionals who enabled Rick to lead a happy and productive life throughout much of his five year illness.

A private service was held at the Davis-Becker Funeral Home, 8536 Market Street, Boardman, with interment in Lake Park Cemetery. 

A memorial service to celebrate Rick’s life will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 26, 2022, at the Butler North building, Butler Institute of American Art, 524 Wick Avenue, Youngstown, OH 44502.

Donations honoring Rick may be sent to the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, 201 E. Commerce Street, Suite 150, Youngstown, OH 44503. Please write “The Rick Shale Fund” in the memo area of your check. Donations to a charity of your choice are also welcome. 

Condolences may be sent at

To send flowers to Richard Allen Shale’s family, please visit our floral store.