Remembering John Shea

October 21, 2022

John Shea, founder of Shea Homes and friend of Catholic education, passed away on October 16, 2022 in Pasadena, CA. He was 96 years old.

Mr. Shea was a prolific supporter of Catholic education. A longtime supporter of the Fulcrum Foundation and of the schools we serve, Mr. Shea lived his faith through giving and service. Over the past 35 years, Mr. Shea and his wife, Dorothy, provided tens of thousands of scholarships and funded more than 1,000 school renovations on more than five hundred different campuses, including many in the Archdiocese of Seattle in the greatest need. 

Shea Homes first made an impact on the Archdiocese of Seattle by helping St. George Parish School build its “miracle gym” in 2007. The school received a generous grant from the Sheas, along with leadership and advice about the construction project. This past year, Shea Homes finished renovations on St. Pius X Catholic School and St. Matthew School, transforming the buildings for students, families, and staff alike.

“I cannot begin to describe the difference that John Shea made in the lives of Catholic school students in Western Washington,” said Vivian Shannon, executive director of the Fulcrum Foundation. “The Bible tells us to love each other as God loves us. John lived this calling every day. He was a shining example of faith, service, compassion, and love. There is no thank you big enough, no gratitude deep enough for all he has done.”

Since the late 1980s, Mr. Shea worked tirelessly to support the students furthest from educational justice. Partnering with the Fulcrum Foundation, Mr. Shea and Shea Homes helped renovate school buildings, making them places of comfort, safety, learning, and faith for all students. His work uplifted entire communities and secured the future of Catholic schools as places of life-changing education for generations to come.

Mr. Shea’s dedication to Catholic education made an immeasurable impact on communities across Los Angeles, Seattle, and the nation.

John Shea was born on Sept. 29, 1926 in Oakland, CA. He attended L.A. High School and the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering. Mr. Shea was a standout tennis player in college, winning an NCAA championship with his brother and doubles partner, Gilbert Shea.

After college, Mr. Shea joined his family’s civil construction business—a company renowned for its work on the Golden Gate Bridge and the Hoover Dam. In 1958, the company was dissolved and reincorporated by Mr. Shea and his cousins into J.F. Shea Co., eventually turning it into one of the largest privately held companies in the U.S.

In 1968, Mr. Shea steered the company into real estate, founding the companies that would eventually become Shea Homes and Shea Properties. Today, Shea Homes is the largest privately held home builder in the nation. 

Mr. Shea’s life was defined by his love of family and his strong Catholic faith. He attended daily Mass throughout his adult life. He is survived by his beloved wife of fifty-four years, Dorothy Babbitt Shea; his eight children, thirty-one grandchildren, and one great-grandson.

He will be lovingly remembered by all those who he helped throughout his life. 

Here is just some of the work Shea Homes has done in our communities: