Mr. Shannon

Mr. Shannon as a young manWhen I was a kid one of my best friends was Jay–or Gerald Shannon, Jr. His father, Mr. Shannon (if I saw him today, I’d still call him that), was a cool guy, I always thought. A hard working dude, he was a forester in Springfield. Even in the mid-late 1970s, when he was in his late-30s (he seemed much older then), his body was beat-up from his work. As I recall, he had a bad back that barked at him (as Jay does today, because of the same type of work). I don’t know if this is true, but I remember Mr. Shannon has being a large guy, around 6’1″, not fat, but thick like a lumberjack. That’s what I thought back then, looking at him with his thick beard of red, blond, and gray hair: this man looks like he wrestles trees for a living. And he did. Looking at Jay today, you can tell he comes from that stock.

Mr. Shannon liked taking apart and fixing things, or building new stuff. He seemed to enjoy being self sufficient. I remember going into the basement as Mr. Shannon was building his new heating system. He installed a wood burning stove that replaced the oil burner, patching the stove right into the existing duct work, and saved the family a lot of money. That was cool. And he built his own garage next to the house so he could work on his various projects year-round, including his black, 4 door 1956 Chevrolet Bel-Air and Ford truck, all kept in top condition. I think that garage was sort of a refuge for Mr. Shannon. Jay and I had our own projects that we worked on together, mostly involving building BMX bikes using frames we found in a local junk yard, but for the most part Mr. Shannon had us work in his old workshop. And I don’t think he wanted us borrowing his tools (I remember having to buy my own 10″ Crescent wrench for our bike work). He was helpful with advice, but we did our thing and he did his.

Last night my mother left a message telling me that Mr. Shannon had died a couple of months ago. I want to thank Mr. Shannon for being one those other male authority figures that boys need in their lives. He wasn’t my father, but a neighborhood dad that watched over the kids.

Here’s an excerpt of the obituary that appeared in the Springfield Republican on 3/13/2007:

Mr. Shannon and brotherGerald J. “Jerry” Shannon, Sr., 64, a longtime resident of the Hungry Hill section of Springfield, died on Monday March 12, 2007 at home. He was born in Springfield on December 2, 1942 a son of the late Robert J. and Alice (Martin) Shannon and was a graduate of Our Lady of Hope School and Cathedral High School, both in Springfield. Jerry was employed for 37 years with the City of Springfield and retired in June of 2002 as the foreman of the Springfield Park Department’s Forestry Division. He was a communicant of Our Lady of Hope Church and was a member of the John Boyle O’Reilly Club, both in Springfield. Jerry also was a member of the National Hot Rod Association. He loved fishing and was often found on his boat “DUNCUTTIN”, and enjoyed playing poker slot machines and restoring automobiles. Jerry served in the Army National Guard and also was a boy scout. He will be truly missed by all who knew him. Jerry is survived by his wife of 42 years, Carol (Maharne) Shannon; and leaves four children, Gerald J. Shannon, Jr. and his wife Bonnie Jean, Carlene M. Shannon, and Timothy J. Shannon, Sr. and his wife Gina, all of Springfield, and Sean P. Shannon and his wife Karen of Ware; his four grandchildren, Kaitlyn Shannon, Patrick Cox, Nicholas Shannon, and Timothy J. Shannon, Jr.; his brother, Robert J. Shannon, Sr. of Florida; and his many nieces and nephews.

Mr. Shannon and daughterI read that, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what the hell “Duncuttin” was supposed to mean! I thought is was some Gaelic word, or had some Irish meaning, but Google came up with nothing. Mr. Shannon liked Irish music and reveled in his Irish heritage (back in the day, I think one of his favorite bands was The Dustmen). Then it dawned on me: duncuttin=done cutting. I’m glad he found some time to enjoy his life without cutting trees, but I’m sure his family wishes he still had more time.


Hi Bill

I just came across this article as I googled myself which I do every now and then (kinda silly but fun). I wanted to say it was a wonderful tribute to my Dad and was sweet of you to do. I am going to tell my family to check it out as well. I hope you are well.

Take Care

Thank you Bill for the lovely tribute to my Uncle. As Carlene said she was going to tell the family & she did, as I am replying from Calif. This just brings family closer to my heart in knowing my Uncle was loved by all. Thank you again!

Pamela and Carlene,

You’re both very welcome about the tribute. Thinking back on my childhood, Mr. Shannon really did mean a lot to me, in ways that were not clear back then.

I would write a bit more, but right now I’m doing some quick email work while on vacation in Germany and don’t have much time. I hope this finds you well!

I just want to thank you for writing such a beautiful article about my uncle. Carol & Jerry and my husband & I have shared so much over the years. We got married about the same time and had our kids intermittenly with each other. I feel his loss along with the rest of the family. We all are trying to help Carlene and Carol through this hard time. Your article I know is a big help.


I am yet, another neice of Jerry’s and would like to thank you for the poignant tribute to him. I too remember so many things about him that made him special…his quick wit and blue eyes…but mostly his laughter, it resounds in my head like song you’ll never forget.