Barbara Ann Shannon
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Barbara Ann Shannon
  • October 16, 1932 - November 30, 2017
  • Ashburn, Virginia

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Barbara Ann Shannon, 85, passed away on November 30 at her home in Ashburn, Virginia, in the constant presence of her family. She is survived by her loving husband, her four children and their spouses, and eight grandchildren.

Barbara was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on October 16, 1932, the daughter of Archie and Lucille Weidner. She described her childhood as a time of exploration and adventure. She would wander through the parks and forests of Milwaukee looking for logs to crawl over, rocks to climb, and creeks to search. In a family history, she wrote, "I enjoyed playing, and often winning, at marbles, baseball, and tackle football. I would come home with snakes in my pocket, dusty, muddy, or bruised. My parents never seemed to have a problem with this." The loving and accepting environment of her home created a confident and fearless young woman who excelled at school and sports.

After graduating from Pulaski High School, she attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she graduated Cum Laud in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science degree and a Political Science major. She was elected to the Sigma Epsilon Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies, and served as an officer of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority. Perhaps most importantly, during her freshman year she met Thomas Shannon, also of Milwaukee, at a magic show. They dated through their four years at Madison and married in June, 1954, shortly after graduating. Barbara, and then newly commissioned Ensign Thomas Shannon, honeymooned during their drive to San Diego, California, where Ensign Shannon served on the destroyer USS John W. Thomason.

Thus began a love story that would last 63 years. They would spend three years in San Diego, living in Del Mar, and enjoying the beautiful weather and Pacific seascapes of southern California. During that time, Barbara worked as a social worker for the San Diego County Welfare Department and then as a Professional Girl Scout with the San Diego-Imperial Counties Girl Scout Council.

In 1957, Barbara and Tom moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where then Lieutenant Shannon was assigned to the University of Minnesota's NROTC program as an Instructor in Naval Science. Upon leaving active duty with the Navy, he entered the U of M's law school. During this time, Barbara gave birth to two sons - Thomas (1958) and Paul (1959) - and a daughter - Suzanne Lucille (1961).
Tiring of Minnesota's harsh winters, and longing for the golden hills of California, Barbara and Tom returned to San Diego in 1962, where Tom became the General Counsel of the San Diego Unified School District. He would eventually rise to become the Deputy Superintendent of Schools. They would spend 15 years in San Diego, giving birth to a third son - Terrence (1966) - and committing themselves to raising a family, loving each other, and playing important roles in shaping San Diego politics, especially in the areas of education, civil and voting rights, and community organizing. Barbara continued her community activism and volunteer work. At different times, she was a City Commissioner, serving as Chairperson of the San Diego Library Commission, a Girl Scout Troop Leader, Vice President of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Girl Scout Council, a board member of the San Diego Inter-Racial Council, a state board member of the California League of Women Voters (including Chairperson of the League's Public Relations Committee), and Vice President of the San Diego League of Women Voters.

Barbara and Tom left San Diego in 1977 and moved to Arlington, Virginia, where Tom became the Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA). Barbara was an active participant and partner with Tom in his work, coordinating and implementing spousal and family programming for NSBA conferences and events throughout the United States, and writing for the American School Board Journal. She also continued her community activism, serving as a member of the Arlington County Fair Housing Board and the Arlington Country Health Care Commission.

Barbara and Tom moved from Arlington to Ashburn, Virginia, in 2009, and resided at Ashby Ponds. Until her death, Barbara was an active member of this community, participating in book clubs, bird watching and nest monitoring projects, exploring the wineries and restaurants of the Virginia horse country, and building friendships with everyone she met. She knew so many people that Tom said she was running for mayor.

Barbara Ann Shannon was a woman of great energy and intellect, but possessed of an even greater soul. Her deep and abiding faith, her respect for others, and the tremendous love she felt for her husband and children fashioned a tight-knit, caring family. Her belief in the high ideals of our nation, her commitment to civility in public discourse, her affinity for engagement, and her conviction that persistence in pursuit of right is a virtue fashioned a remarkable person. Her gentleness and loving attention radiated far beyond her family, and shaped positively all who engaged with her. May God bless and hold her tight until she can be reunited with Tom.

A funeral mass was held at St. Theresa Catholic Church, Ashburn and burial was conducted at Quantico National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the American Red Cross or Doctors without Borders.