Shipley was "a critical force behind what is now JPMorgan Chase," Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said in a note to employees. He died on Friday, Dimon said.
The company did not provide details on Shipley's death.
Shipley served as chairman and chief executive of both Chase Manhattan Bank and Chemical Bank, Dimon said, and retired in 1999, the year before Chase acquired J.P. Morgan.
Over four decades, he helped to orchestrate mergers with Texas Commerce Bank in 1987, Manufacturers Hanover in 1991 and Chase Manhattan Bank in 1995.
"Walter had a vision of where the banking industry was going, and he had the courage and ability to act," former Chase CEO Bill Harrison said in a statement.
Born the son of a Wall Street investment banker in Newark, New Jersey, Shipley was forced to leave Williams College due to poor grades. The six-foot, eight-inch former basketball captain subsequently had to work and pay for his education, and attended night school determined to prove himself to his family, the bank said in an obituary.
Dimon said Shipley was widely respected as a "straight shooter" who fostered an open, entrepreneurial meritocracy.
He is survived by five children, seven grandchildren, two siblings and a companion, the bank said.
(Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida)