(p. xxi) Memoriam: Remembering Shane J. Lopez: A Legacy of Spreading Hope
(p. xxi) Memoriam: Remembering Shane J. Lopez: A Legacy of Spreading Hope
Shane J. Lopez passed away on July 23, 2016. He was born on April 4, 1970, in New Iberia, Louisiana, and was proud of his Cajun heritage. Shane is survived by his wife, Alli Rose Lopez, and their beloved son, Parrish. He is also survived by his sister, Crystal Gaudin Lopez, his brother Harry Lopez Jr., his father Harry Lopez Sr., many other family members, and numerous friends and colleagues who were fortunate to have known Shane. I was fortunate to have known Shane as a mentor, colleague, and friend. Shane passed away a few months before we finalized The Oxford Handbook of Hope, but his contributions were crucial and this handbook is just one of his many legacies of helping to share the science and practice of hope.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, Shane attended the University of Kansas for his master’s and doctoral degrees in counseling psychology. Shane’s strengths as a scientist were quickly recognized at KU. He received numerous awards as a graduate student including the Brooks-Cole Award, given to the outstanding doctoral student in counseling psychology, and KU offered him a faculty position before he finished his internship to make sure that he remained at KU. Rick Snyder, the preeminent expert on the topic of hope at the time, mentored Shane in his early years at KU, and Rick and Shane went on to develop a remarkably productive and collaborative working relationship and a deeply meaningful friendship. Shane continued to flourish at KU, quickly rising to the rank of tenured full professor and making invaluable contributions to the KU counseling program and the education and training of his own advisees and many other students. Shane had a passion for mentoring and advised many students who have gone on to have successful careers as faculty and clinicians. Shane valued relationships, was great at developing and nurturing them, and was a wonderful role model for demonstrating the benefits and importance of helping others rather than just focusing on personal accomplishments. Shane was also an excellent teacher and won numerous awards for his teaching while at KU.
After a successful decade at the University of Kansas, Shane’s ongoing collaborations with Donald Clifton and others at the Gallup organization ultimately led to Shane leaving academia to accept a position as Gallup’s Senior Scientist in Residence and Research Director for the Clifton Strengths Institute. At Gallup, Shane collaborated with his dear friend Connie Rath and was able (p. xxii) to apply his passion for helping individuals of all backgrounds, and particularly students, better understand their strengths and recognize how hope could help them accomplish their goals and dreams. One of his most impressive accomplishments was in guiding the development and execution of the Gallup Student Poll, which has now been used to measure and promote the hope, engagement, and well-being of more than 4 million students. While working at Gallup, Shane also published Making Hope Happen (Lopez, 2013), which represents his magnum opus in many ways and synthesized nearly two decades of creative and rigorous scholarship that Shane had done to best understand how to spread ripples of hope.
By every metric of professional success for academics, Shane was exceptional. He published more than 100 articles and chapters and more than a dozen books. These publications, many in collaboration with his dear friend Rick Snyder, included many of the most crucial publications in the field of positive psychology in the past two decades: including The Handbook of Positive Psychology, The Encyclopedia of Positive Psychology, Positive Psychological Assessment, and one of the first positive psychology textbooks for undergraduates. He was an award-winning teacher and mentor and was a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the International Positive Psychology Association. Shane was also a remarkable leader for the field of positive psychology and helped to organize many of the early conferences in the field of positive psychology, was on the board of directors of the International Positive Psychology Association, and served in many other leadership roles that helped to build the field of positive psychology.
Shane was also passionate about ensuring that the findings of educational and positive psychology were spread beyond academia and were used to actually improve the lives and education of youth. He was passionate about conducting applied research to bring the science of hope outside of the laboratory and into the classroom. He spoke regularly to teachers and educators throughout the United States and around the world and had a remarkable gift for distilling the essence of recent scientific findings so that they could best be applied to help others. Shane delivered multiple TEDx talks and other presentations in which he used his unique gifts to spread the findings of hope and positive psychology more broadly. Through all of these efforts, Shane was able to make sure that his scientific studies were brought to life and had an important impact on promoting hope, particularly in students.
Shane’s professional accomplishments were just one aspect of his life and alone do not do justice to the positive impact he had. Shane led a rich life full of friendship and was a devoted husband and father. Meeting with Shane at La Prima Tazza or one of his other favorite coffee shops in Lawrence, Kansas, was always an interesting experience, as nearly every time we’d gather to chat about work we’d end up running into one of Shane’s many friends who clearly cared deeply for him and appreciated having him in their life. My relationship with Shane began a decade ago at the University of Kansas. Rick Snyder was my graduate advisor and Shane’s mentor, colleague, and friend, and after Rick unexpectedly passed away in January 2006, I reached out to Shane for guidance. Shane was not in my department, but he never hesitated in providing help, and I know that he played a similarly important role in supporting and promoting (p. xxiii) the careers of many others. Although Shane left academia for his position at Gallup shortly after we began working together, he remained an important mentor, and I was fortunate to be able to consider him a friend and to collaborate with him on variety of projects over the past decade. Despite his immense success, his kindness and generosity never wavered, and Shane continued to provide guidance and mentorship to colleagues and students worldwide.
Unbeknownst to many, Shane achieved his professional and personal success despite experiencing a series of debilitating health conditions. While in graduate school, Shane developed mononucleosis that led to chronic fatigue syndrome, which he struggled with for two years. In 2003, Shane was then diagnosed with West Nile virus. The effects of this virus and the subsequent complications that arose were debilitating and continued to impact him for years. For the last few years of his life Shane also struggled with severe depression. Throughout it all, Shane persevered with Alli by his side and with the support of numerous colleagues and friends such as Tom Krieshok. Shane’s resilience was inspirational, and he continued to spread ripples of hope even while battling the series of illnesses.
As news of Shane’s passing spread last July, the outpouring of messages from family, friends, and colleagues across the country and the world spoke to the remarkable impact that Shane had on many people’s lives. Celebrations of Shane’s legacy and impact were organized for the annual conventions of the American Psychological Association and the International Positive Psychology Association, and memorial services were held in Lawrence and in his hometown of New Iberia, Louisiana. At the service in New Iberia, held in the same church in which he married his dearly beloved wife Alli, family, friends, and colleagues gathered to celebrate his life. When asked during an interview Shane did a few years prior to his passing how he would like to be remembered, he said that “I would love for people to smile while telling stories of me at my funeral.” That is exactly what took place. Childhood friends, beloved colleagues at KU and Gallup, and cherished former graduate students all shared stories of a life well lived and how Shane improved the lives of those around him.
Like Rick Snyder before him, Shane was a remarkable man who we lost too soon. Shane was fond of speaking about the importance of spreading ripples of hope. The many scientists, practitioners, and students he inspired to have the passion and skills to study and spread hope are just one of the many ways in which Shane leaves a legacy of spreading ripples of hope to bolster the hope and well-being of those around him. My last conversation with Shane was shortly before his passing. We spoke briefly about some remaining decisions regarding how best to finalize and finish this handbook but also spoke about Alli and Parrish. Shane was still struggling with depression at that time, but he never lost his passion for spreading hope, and his love for Alli and Parrish was always clear. Two things that were apparent then and that I will always remember about Shane are how much his face would light up when we spoke about Alli and Parrish and how passionate, generous, and effective he was in spreading ripples of hope. Shane was an inspirational mentor, colleague, and friend, and he is dearly missed.
Matthew W. Gallagher
Houston, Texas (p. xxiv)