William Shipley II
William Shipley II

When William Stewart Shipley II offered advice to his son, he always ended the conversation the same way.

"He had the grace to counsel me and say, 'You do what you think is best,'" said William Stewart Shipley III. "And when I didn't take his advice and failed, he never rubbed my face in it. He always asked, 'What did you learn from it?' I consider myself very lucky to be his son. I always appreciated that. Never have I appreciated that more than right now."

His father died Saturday night, leaving behind a loving family and legacy that will live beyond his 84 years.

The memories he might have lost to dementia during the last decade will forever be recalled by the employees who became his friends at Shipley Energy.

"When Mr. Shipley would come into work, he went around the office and greeted every employee. He knew something personally about everyone. Even in his retirement years, he would do that," said Roger Fuller, systems administrator at Shipley Energy.

Master of balance: In the 1950s, William Shipley II joined what was then York Shipley Inc. and led the company through several years of growth and acquisitions of oil companies. He was the first president of the independent company that became Shipley Energy, which his son currently leads.

"Now that I'm in his role, I find it even more impressive that he was so patient and such a great teacher," said William Shipley III.

The biggest lesson he learned from his father was to achieve balance.

"To extract as much joy out of every situation as possible. He was such a good person on so many levels," the younger Shipley said.

Nobody knew that better than his customers, according to Paul Drawbaugh, a former executive vice president who retired from Shipley in 2007.

"With Bill, customers always came first. If you had an issue with a customer, you better have resolved it before it got to him. He always said without customers, he didn't need any of us," he said.

Generosity: Drawbaugh recalled a generous spirit who would tell his employees to fill up empty heating oil tanks at local homes, even if the residents couldn't afford to pay the bills.

"'They'll pay me when they can,' he always said. He was the nicest guy God put feet on," Drawbaugh said.

Those qualities made him a wonderful entrepreneur and aggressive marketer, said Bob Borden, a member of the company's advisory board who worked for William Shipley II for 25 years.

"His business philosophy was that taking care of customers and employees was the way you grow a business," he said.

William Shipley II always wanted to make sure the company was doing things the right way and ethical way, and he led with optimism and a fun-loving nature, Borden said.

"His personality was contagious," he said.

His son hopes he is carrying on those good traits.

"I aspire to be as generous a spirit as he was. He was charismatic," said William Shipley III.

Even as he lived with dementia, he did it with dignity, his son said.

"That's just another example of the kind of man he was. He was never frustrated or angry. He was accepting and positive and handled his disease in the most dignified way possible. He was never a difficult patient," William Shipley III said.

Love of music: And his salve was always the music.

An avid drummer who played in Dixieland jazz combos and the Lehigh University band, William Shipley II would always tap his foot and smile when one of his favorite songs would come on.

"He was a true lover of music. Maybe that always stays with you. Maybe that's the last thing to go," his son said.

William Shipley II is survived by his wife of nearly 59 years, Shirley Dahl Shipley; their children, William Shipley III (Michelle Landis) of York, Linda Shipley Warren, MD ("Hootie" Warren, MD, PhD) of Bainbridge Island, Wash., and Elizabeth Marion Shipley of Seattle; their grandchildren, Erin Shipley Shaffer (Andrew Shaffer) of State College, Sarah Shipley Kuljevan (Francisco Kuljevan) of York, Benjamin George Shipley of York, and Katherine Elida Warren, Sylvia May Warren and Houston Shipley Warren of Bainbridge Island, Wash.; a great-grandchild, William Paul Shaffer of State College; and a cousin, Sarah Bolton Stahl of York.

William Shipley II will be remembered during a funeral service at 11 a.m. Saturday at The First Presbyterian Church of York, 225 E. Market St.

Private entombment will follow at Prospect Hill Cemetery.

A memorial fund has been set up at York College to bring expert musicians to the school's music department and entire York community. It will feature jazz, percussion, big band musicians and more. Contributions may be sent to: The William Stewart Shipley II Fund for Music, York College of Pennsylvania, 441 Country Club Road, York, PA 17403.

— Reach Candy Woodall at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.