Jeff Shuper passed away in a tragic car accident at the age of 48. Known in the industry as an immensely talented ride foreman, he will be missed by many: especially by his long-time friend, Mike Williams.
Williams owned Farrow Shows before he consolidated 5 different amusement companies in 2004 to create North American Midway Entertainment. Williams recalls Shuper's humble beginnings in the outdoor amusement industry; he was playing a fair in Hibbing, Minnesota, Shuper's hometown. At the age of 15, Shuper showed up at the fair site to help with set-up and tear-down. "He was immediately enamored with the industry," says Williams.
Once he turned 18, Shuper began traveling on the road full time working for Farrow Shows and eventually for North American Midway Entertainment.
"I could tell he was unique from the start; he was smart and a problem solver," says Williams. Shuper eventually became known as one of the top ride technicians in the industry. Williams liked to put Shuper in charge of the larger rides; he appointed Shuper as the foreman of the Giant Wheel just two years after he bought it. Williams recalls, "he was the guy you called in when you needed a piece of equipment moved and he always did a fantastic job."
Williams describes Shuper as a private man who was always very loyal, especially to Farrow Shows. Williams attributes his success in building a 250 ride show from a 15 ride show to talented team members and Shuper is definitely one of them. "He was a great asset and I don't know that I could've done it without him," says Williams.
Shuper continued working for North American Midway Entertainment even after Williams sold the show in 2010. One of Shuper's other talents was ride refurbishment. During the months in winter quarters, he would work on refurbishing rides and could get them looking as good as new.
Shuper's loyalty was replicated by him having a very loyal crew of his own. He treated them very well and would even take them on trips when they had breaks in the route. "He did all of that on his own dime to show his appreciation to his crew; he treated them very well," says Williams.
When North American Midway Entertainment was originally created, they had quite a few units that were referred to based on their original show or family names. When asked which route Shuper primarily travelled with, Williams explained that Shuper mainly travelled with the Farrow Shows unit but he certainly would jump around from time to time when they needed work done on a larger ride on a different unit. According to Williams, Shuper truly was the best of the best.
In addition to his love for the outdoor amusement industry, Shuper loved to travel. During his off time in some of the winter months, Shuper would travel all over the world. Williams recalls him taking a journey to Iceland and loving it.
Shuper was a great man, and talented ride foreman, and he will be missed by many. Shuper's funeral will be held at 10am on Friday, October 20th at the First Lutheran Church in Hibbing, MN. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Jeff Shuper to the Showmen's League of America Scholarship fund.