For more than a decade, Chris Shull was the Wichita Eagle’s avant garde Wichita symphony reviewer and reporter of all things cultural.
Mr. Shull, who worked at The Eagle from 1998 to 2008 writing nearly 1,500 articles during that time, died Wednesday in Dallas after a brief illness. He was 55 years old.
No service is planned.
He endeared himself to some of Wichita’s elite, and those of lower-brow lifestyles.
“He was one of those people that everybody loved,” said Wichita Eagle reporter Denise Neil. “He had a huge personality. He was loud and profane in a loveable way. Even people who didn’t get along with each other loved Chris. He was an enigma — he loved music, art, jazz and knew as much about NASCAR and the Dallas Cowboys.”
He married in to one of Wichita’s prominent art families — Charla Sanderson, who worked at Wichita’s CityArts and whose father was Charles Sanderson, the painter of abstract and realist Kansas landscapes. They were married 17 years.
“I used to take credit for introducing them, I don’t know if I did or not,” said a tearful Ann Garvey, one of the couple’s many friends in Wichita. “I am so terribly sad about this. He made all the difference in the arts because of his insightful writing. Because of his level of integrity of writing, he raised the level of attention to the proper level that the arts deserved.
“I was just awed when I read his reviews. He could transform music into words. How does somebody to that? But it was such a gifted writer and such a darling man — oh man, did we love this adorable man.”
Mr. Shull was born in Kansas City, Kansas on March 30, 1962 and was a 1985 graduate of Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, where he majored in music.
He was quirky and funny — and for much of his tenure at The Eagle he wore prescription rose-colored Ray-Bans, day and night, believing it was cheaper than getting two pairs of glasses.
“Work was a whole lot more fun when he showed up,” said Bonnie Bing, the Eagle’s former fashion writer, now retired. “He just always had something funny to say. There was no way to be in a bad mood around him. He could cheer you up real quick.”
Prior to working at The Eagle, Mr. Shull was a founding member of The Met, an alternative weekly that published in Dallas from 1994 to 2000. After his years at The Eagle, he worked at The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Most recently he worked at The Dallas Symphony Association.