Haruwn Wesley Shampa’s Pies Memorial

The accident.

We are devastated to share that on Sunday, December 13, Haruwn suffered a catastrophic accident while surfing at Fort Point in the Presidio. In his many years as an expert surfer, he had managed to save many lives in the water himself. He was unexpectedly thrown from a wave into the rocks at a high velocity, and suffered from numerous bodily injuries. His fellow surfers—among them off-duty paramedics—rescued him immediately and began CPR at the site. He was transported to San Francisco General Hospital where he received outstanding medical care and managed to use all of his strength and love to stay with our family for an additional 7 days, before he felt that he had properly said goodbye, transitioning on December 20th. His beloved family was at his side.

A soulful life.

 Haruwn has rescued many people over the years who were either swept out by the surf in a riptide or became unable to help themselves out in the San Francisco Bay and Ocean Beach. One time at Ocean Beach, he was on the shore when he saw people screaming and pointing at the water.  He simply dove in, swam 50 yards in heavy surf and rescued the man before the Surf Patrol arrived. Another time, he saved the life of a man whose life vest malfunctioned the sailboat he was in capsized under the Golden Gate Bridge.  For that rescue he received a Congressional Honor from the U.S. House of Representatives and was recognized as a Hero by the American Red Cross. There were many others who he rescued.

Haruwn would often comment that he made many friends with fellow surfers in the 30 years he surfed at Fort Point, Ocean Beach, Linda Mar, Ano Nuevo, and Santa Cruz, and these friends came to his aid on Sunday without hesitation. Haruwn felt a spiritual connection to the ocean and would frequently confer with a curious seal, dolphin, otter or other sea creature who greeted him in the water. Often he would claim that they approached him because they could sense he was a fellow “brother”. Only one time did he feel the presence of the “land lord” (the great white shark) and leave the water.

Mostly, Haruwn was known in the Bay Area for his bakery, Shampa’s Pies, which has a developed a cult-like following and is based locally in Pacifica. Drawn to his enthusiasm and expert pie baking, customers and fans traveled from around the world to experience his organic sweet potato, lemon chess, fancy pecan, chocolate cream, apple cobbler, and many other seasonal pies (he would want us to list them all here!). Haruwn was very touched by the rave reviews he received in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Pacific Tribune, Sunday Punch, and many food blogs that attested to the love of his customers and critics. He adjusted his recipes—or “mix”—as he called it depending on the humidity, the salt in the air, the sun or clouds, in addition to the unique aspects of each batch of organic fruit since he felt all of those were essential ingredients.  When a senior citizen or child would ask about the pie and not have the money to buy one, he would say "This one is for you--I can't sell it, please take it."

Mixing eastern and western traditions came naturally to Haruwn. He would refer to himself as a “Nubian-asian-brother” blending his African-American and Chinese heritage into his own unique flavor of life. From Juneteenth to Lunar New Year, he loved to celebrate a mix of culture.  From his Chinese grandfather he was introduced to Tai Chi, studied with the masters, and received many accolades and awards for his technique and style. He traveled to China and practiced with the Chinese National Team in Beijing.  In 1999 he was named the International Grand Champion for Tai Chi. At the time of his death he was a student of Master Zhang Hong Mei at Pacific Wushu, along with his daughter Simone.

Haruwn’s first love was jazz and his presence in the Bay Area live jazz scene was well known. An upright bass player, he studied in New York and later in the Bay Area under his mentor Herbie “Prince” Lewis for many years. He formed the KDM Jazz Trio and played with many master musicians including Blue Note drummer Donald “Duck” Bailey among others.

Although he came to fatherhood relatively late in life he focused completely on parenting and raising his daughter Simone Marie (17) and step-son Cosmo (21). He was a dedicated husband to Margaret and, for many years, a stay-at-home father from Simone’s birth until Cosmo started high school. And then, one day, he announced that since the children were more independent, he thought he would return to his love of baking and open a pie shop. His mother-in-law had encouraged him to open a “food business” before she passed away, and he named his bakery in her honor with the nickname the children called her: “Shampa”.   

Haruwn was an honest person who loved life,  from vegan donuts to going to the movies to simply laying in the sun. He loved his family and lived fully in the present--he had no regrets. He loved people deeply and soulfully. He never looked back, only forward. He was humble and generous with his time, his spirit, and literally, the shirt off his back.

Why we are fundraising.

This fundraiser will help our family offset the tremendous medical expenses of Haruwn’s intensive care hospitalization since the accident, defray mortuary expenses, cover ongoing bills for the bakery during this transition, and support the children’s educational expenses which have been funded fully by the bakery's income in recent years. 

We appreciate all the love and prayers that people have sent Haruwn, and we know that they helped give him the strength to give our family more time with him. We are truly blessed.
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Margaret Coles
San Francisco, CA

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