Cincinnati Chamber unveils the new five-year strategic framework to foster regional growth

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Recognize & Celebrate businesses & people

Great Living Cincinnatians: Honorees

Celebrating the leadership, vision, tenacity, and love of community shared by the recipients of the Great Living Cincinnatian Award, presented annually by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber since 1967.

West Shell, Jr.

Awarded In 1993

1922 – 1997


The name West Shell is synonymous with real estate in Greater Cincinnati, so it’s not surprising that West Shell Jr.’s proudest accomplishment was building a three-man firm begun in 1958 into the largest realty company in the Tristate, with 26 offices, more than 1,000 employees and sales of about $1 billion a year in 1993.

He was equally proud, however, to have helped shape the growth and development of Cincinnati.

Twice named Cincinnati Realtor of the Year, Shell, 70, sold the company in 1985, but remained active as chairman emeritus until 1991. Mr. Shell estimated that for much of his career, 35 percent of his working day was devoted to the development of the city in matters other than running his business.

A graduate of Asheville School, Dartmouth College and the Tuck School of Business, Mr. Shell was a Marine Corps lieutenant during World War II. After the war, he began a career in real estate and was elected president of the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors in 1955.

In 1958, at the age of 36, Mr. Shell became the youngest president of the Ohio Board of Realtors. It was also in 1958 that he started his real estate company in Mariemont with only two employees. He built his company into the area’s largest real estate firm, with thriving residential and commercial divisions.

As the Chamber’s chairman in 1982, he oversaw the creation of the Blue Chip Campaign for Economic Development. He was a member of the Cincinnati city manager’s Year 2000 Review Committee, and also served as chairman of Cincinnati’s Central Riverfront Advisory Committee, director of the Hoxworth Blood Center and Cincinnati Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, and director of the National Association of Realtors.

Mr. Shell endowed the University of Cincinnati by establishing the West Shell Jr. Professorship of Real Estate. A memorial fund was established at UC by the company to continue the real estate program.

Nominate a Great Living Cincinnatian

Recipients are selected from candidates by the Cincinnati Chamber’s senior council based on the following criteria: – Community service – Business and civic attainment on a local, state and national or international level – Leadership – Awareness of the needs of others – Distinctive accomplishments that have brought favorable attention to their community, institution or organization