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Friends and Family Mourn Loss of Famed Collector Alex Shear

By Ben Fractenberg | January 14, 2014 5:40pm
 Americana collector Alex Shear, 73, was killed after being struck by a tourist bus on West 96th Street on Jan. 10, 2014.
Americana collector Alex Shear, 73, was killed after being struck by a tourist bus on West 96th Street on Jan. 10, 2014.
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UPPER WEST SIDE — He would have loved the collection of people who came to pay their respects.

More than 100 friends and family members filled the pews beneath the vaulted blue ceiling of Riverside Memorial Chapel Tuesday afternoon to mourn the loss of famed Americana collector Alex Shear, who died at age 73 on Friday after he was struck by a tour bus on West 96th Street.

Shear's son William remembered his dad as a loving father who used his many collections to encourage his childhood fascination with construction workers.

"I came home from school one day and he had completely outfitted my room as a construction site," William said during the service, "complete with orange safety cones that were taller than I was, full-sized Con Edison barricades, safety vests, an almost adult-sized workbench filled with adult-sized tools, hard hats, rubber insulated safety gloves, et cetera, et cetera."

William added that the story was one of many examples of how his father supported his and his brother's interests "and sometimes, if not most times, [took] it to an extreme." 

Shear spent much of his life searching for American kitsch all across the country, according to a 1999 New Yorker profile.

At the time he reportedly had amassed more than 1,200 categories of items, including "station-wagon memorabilia" and “folk-art roller-skate carrying cases."

"He was the Pied Piper of the American dream," said one of his longtime friends. "The most enthusiastic person I've ever known when it came to talking about this crazy, creative country that we've built over these past 238 years."

Shortly after Shear was hit by the bus, 9-year-old Cooper Stock was struck and killed by a taxi just one block away.

Comptroller and Upper West Side resident Scott Stringer called for changes to curb pedestrian fatalities.

Shear is survived by his sons William and Andrew and his brother Ted.

His family asked that, instead of flowers, donations be made to the National Alliance of Mental Illness.