''He's a Chautauqua County original,'' someone said; larger than life, completely affable and adventuresome, lively and a diverse, colorful man. Residing in Bemus Point for over 40 years, there is probably no one who has not heard of him He's an entrepreneur, a political animal, a Vietnam vet, lover of Bemus Point and all its businesses and he is fervently attached to Chautauqua County.
''I love this place,'' he rhapsodizes.
Born in Jamestown in 1946, he left home in 1965 to join the Marine Corps. He went for a tour of three years and ended his tour in Vietnam. This experience was to reverberate for him in later years when he had some occasion to help returning vets deal with residual effects of the war. He was at the time working for Congressman Stan Lundine and was able to help specifically with post-traumatic stress in these vets. As many other aspects of his life, he says, ''I enjoy helping people.'' While home then, with his parents, he was employed in construction. Life changed dramatically for him in 1970.
Sheryl Carlson, as he describes her, ''a lovely Swede from Swede Hill,'' became Mrs. Shagla in September 1970. They chose Bemus Point as their place to live and, 40 years later, they are still together, still there. His political interests began there, too, when in 1972 he became a village of Bemus Point trustee. He then ran for the office of mayor and was elected in 1973 at the age of 26. The newspaper read: ''Bemus Elects Youth in Blue Jeans.'' He was a three-term mayor until 1981. While mayor, he began a career with Congressman Stan Lundine, in 1976, as mobile office manager. His responsibilities included intervening on behalf of Lundine's constituents when there were concerns. He worked for Lundine until 1987 on his Congressional staff, mostly as a direct field rep for the congressman, during which time he was able to access returning Vietnam vets who brought residual problems of the war home with them. He especially helped vets with post-traumatic stress syndrome. Again, he enjoyed helping people. He referred to his experience with the congressman as ''like an education in government.''
In 1984, he bought the See-Zurh House, an historic inn over 100 years old. A tour of the inn exposes memorabilia and pictures that clearly show the structure in its prime. Post-Stan Lunding, in 1987, he made the See-Zurh House ''take off.'' It remains a vital part of the Bemus Point scene. Interestingly, the two men who sold the inn to Shagla were Don See and Zurh Faulkner. Like him, they were colorful, too.
People & Places
Shagla considers himself always on the periphery of politics. He joined the Independence party and is now its county chairman. He is also the president of the Maple Grove Central School board and serves on the South Central Chautauqua Lake Sewer District board. He believes he has had a ''lifetime of devotion to public service.'' He is a strong supporter of the Bemus Bay Pops, recognizing the considerable impact it represents on all aspects of county revenue. His life is colored by the fact that his 29-year-old adopted daughter is in his life and lives in Alabama. He is cheered by the association with the Rappoles, as his wife's sister, Bonnie, married John Rappole several years ago. They live in the area.
In spite of an incurable, rare disease called Wegener's granulamatosis, for which he has constant treatment, he continues his love affair with life, activities which enhance the village and his own particular indomitable spirit, infusing everyone with his original, singular self.