Neil Sterling Shaver, 95, of Council Bluffs, whose hand-printed, deluxe limited-edition books are included in the special collections of a number of libraries here and abroad, died Tuesday.
Born in Omaha on Feb. 7, 1924, the son of Joe and Leah Shaver, he retired as president of Shaver’s Food Marts in 1980.
Shaver had been interested in printing since taking a letterpress class while a junior high student and began collecting printing equipment in 1958.
Shaver and his wife, Fran, moved to acreage outside of Council Bluffs in 1966. There was a barn on the property that the couple turned into Shaver’s printing studio, which his wife reportedly dubbed Yellow Barn Press.
Shaver enrolled in a handmade book course at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1978. He started his Yellow Barn Press — transforming his hobby into a business — about the same time he retired from the grocery business.
Following his retirement from the grocery business he published over 30 titles — all printed by hand — most of which were about books, collecting or printing. On average, he completed two of the hand-printed, limited-edition books every year.
Because of failing eyesight, Shaver closed Yellow Barn Press in 2005.
Books Shaver produced in his Council Bluffs shop are in the special collections of the Oxford and Cambridge Libraries in England and many locations in the United States, including the New York Public Library, the Huntington Library in California, Harvard University, Yale University, the University of Iowa and the Library of Congress. The UNO Library has all of Shaver’s books.
Although the Council Bluffs Public Library does not own any of Shaver’s books, the local library hosted a display of his work in 1990.
In addition to his parents, Shaver was preceded in death by his brother, Elmo, and sister, Myrn Livingston.
Shaver is survived by his wife, Fran; sons, Joseph Shaver (Robin) and Daniel Shaver (Melinda); daughter Sarah Knauss; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A memorial service was held Friday.