Tom Shooter


A native of Williamsport, Pa., he enjoyed a rich childhood growing up along the Susquehanna River, where he spent much time swimming with boyhood friends and cousins. Early in his life, he was encouraged to see beauty and truth by his grandfather, Leonard Beiter.

He studied to be a minister for a year at Lycoming College in Williamsport. He then went on to attend the school of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1962, and was graduated in 1967. He went to Italy as a traveling scholar for his fifth year with his wife and two small children, and taught painting in Naples.

He traveled throughout Europe and earlier the Southwest of the United States. After this he settled for a time in Boston, where he became a well-known artist. He was repelled by this popularity and moved to New York city, where he maintained the lifestyle of a "starving artist;" painting was his life.

Throughout his life, he was a teacher of painting who made great bonds with his students and shared his wisdom. For 13 years he taught painting at the Education Alliance in New York City.

He resided in the Westbeth Artist building in Greenwich Village for 15 years. His last great body of work was completed in 2003 and exhibited at the Westbeth gallery. He lived in his studio and painted up until his death.

Mr. Shooter spent summers on the Vineyard beginning in the 1970s and long-distance swimming was a special spiritual experience that renewed him throughout his life. His favorite place to swim was from Eastville Beach in Vineyard Haven. In his Boston years, he was one of the L Street Brownies who took the winter plunge into the channel every year. He invented his own swimming stroke in the 1960s after a shoulder injury; it was a spiral stroke that he could do even when he had seizures, which he struggled with since the age of seven.

Mr. Shooter embraced his struggles and celebrated them rather than denying them or running from them, yet he didn't focus on them. They were a part of him but they were not him. He was a man who loved flowers and talking with people genuinely. He leaves behind a legacy of dignity and love.