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Troy- James J. Shaughnessy, 84, of Troy, passed away peacefully on August 7, 2018.
Born in Troy, he was the son of the late James A. Shaughnessy and Helen Goodwin Shaughnessy and loving husband of 57 years to Carol MacNaughton Shaughnessy.
Jim was a graduate of Catholic Central High School, class of 1951, and went on to get his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from RPI graduating in 1955. He loved to cook and was an excellent chef. He also enjoyed traveling with his wife Carol to Ogunquit Maine, Stowe Vermont, Mexico and Europe, especially Ireland. Jim was very proud of his Irish heritage.
Over his career he held various positions including professor of civil engineering at Hudson Valley Community College, engineer at both the New York State Department of Transportation and Rensselaer County Highway Department, design engineer at Kestner Engineers P.C., a private water and wastewater consulting firm, and Director of environmental health for the Rensselaer County Health Department.
However, he was most well-known for his brilliant second career as a nationally renowned railroad photographer, author and historian for nearly 70 years. He was one of the driving forces that helped reshape American railroad photography in the 1950s. His work has appeared in over 100 books and been featured in Trains, Railroad, Railfan andClassic Trains magazines. He authored seminal books on the history of two railroads, Delaware & Hudson (1967) and The Rutland Road (1964), and his photography has been the subject of two monographs: The Call of Trains (2008) and Essential Witness (2017). He was awarded a lifetime achievement award for photography from the National Railway and Locomotive Historical Society in 1987.
In addition to his wife, Carol, James is survived by his son James D. Shaughnessy (Laura) of Schodack, and his grandchildren, Keira and Kevin.
Calling hours will be held Friday, August 10, 2018, from 4 to 7 PM at the McLoughlin & Mason Funeral Home, 8 109th Street, Troy, NY 12182.
Funeral Mass will be held at 10 AM on Saturday, August 11, 2018, at Our Lady of Victory Church, 55 N Lake Ave, Troy, NY 12180. Burial will follow at Oakwood Cemetery, Troy.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at www.stjude.org/donate, Shriners Hospitals for Children at https://donate.lovetotherescue.org, the Center for Photography and Art at http://www.railphoto-art.org/support, or the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society at 161 Gilmore Road, Wrentham, MA 02093.
Please visit www.mcloughlinmason.com.
Arend Gregor Calgary Alberta CanadaI just wish to express my condolences at the loss of a great man. I did not know Mr. Shaughnessy personally. But over the years of reading his railroad bylines he reminded me of my own father a man who cared and shared his great knowledge and values. All the best and take care.
Arend Gregor18 Sep 17 2018 12:00 AM
It goes without saying that Jim was one of the greatest and most influential railroad photographers of all time, and I personally consider him the greatest of all time. What I'd like everyone to remember about Jim is that he was also one of the most humble, kind, and giving people amongst railroad photographers. I am so thankful that, as another railroad photographer from Troy, I had the opportunity to meet with and correspond with Jim on several occasions. When I first met Jim, I was a young and inexperienced photographer. But, despite Jim being so accomplished, he never saw himself so "above the rest" that he couldn't take the time to chat with someone like me while trackside, answer questions, etc. In 2006 while at Siena College, Jim let me interview him as a source for my 35-page senior thesis paper, and he was very accommodating and patient. After years of having my photos published in a regional magazine, Jim was the very first person to congratulate me when I made it to the "Big Time" (as he put it) when I was first published in Trains Magazine. Jim also welcomed me into his home one afternoon to select slides of his to use for my first railroad photography book. I also picked Jim's brain several times regarding local railroad history and locations of long-gone rail lines and structures (especially in Troy), and now I will be able to pass that knowledge along to the next generation. I will miss Jim dearly, and I'm praying for Carol, Jim, and the rest of his family during this time.
Tim Stockwell Aug 11 2018 12:00 AM
I mourn the loss of a good friend, we were minds alike in many ways. He was always very helpful with advice, encouragementand location identification with personal storiesas well as personal insight apart from anything railroad related. He was always a diplomat except when off the record privately. The old great's are leaving us behind. Who can take their place?
Bill Kozel Aug 10 2018 12:00 AM
Jim & Family -Our thoughts and prayers for peace and comfort go out to you and your family.
Brian Barker Aug 10 2018 12:00 AM
It is often true that we never have the opportunity to thank those who tolerated us as children, listened as we grew, acted as a role model or mentor, gave guidance or served as teachers or in many other ways. Some individuals are generous, giving, and exceptionally knowledgeable about a topic or a craft or an art, and impact many who come after, as a result. Jim was one of those people in my life, who I met only once when quite young and then several times again in much later years, but who remains a mentor from afar through his extraordinary and lifelong craft of both photography and writing. In recent years, the opportunity to see him present at a number of different railroad photography and railroad history forums was tremendous. His sense of humor pervaded these presentations, which were given with very modest commentary; exhibiting his desire to communicate what he was able to see and photograph that contributes so to history. This has certainly molded some ofwhat I have striven for and his first railroad history was, as for many of us, my first such railroad book. It stands today as the standard for substantial railroad histories.His mark surely must be a triumph, even at a sad time as we note his passing.
Dave Saums, Amesbury MA Aug 10 2018 12:00 AM
I never knew Jim except through his books, his writings for Railroad magazines, and his appearances in Railroad videos. I offer my condolences to his family and friends. God rest his soul!
Fr. Andrei Alexiev Aug 9 2018 12:00 AM
Carol & Family,You are in my thoughts and prayers during this time of sorrow.
Fred MacNaughton Aug 9 2018 12:00 AM