W. R. “Bill” Shannon

“They Say The Road We Travel Makes Us Who We Are”


    Wilbur Redd Shannon, age 87, of Port Ludlow, Washington, passed away quietly on March 30, 2004.  A memorial service will be held on April 24, 2004 at 11:00am at the First Presbyterian Church in Port Townsend, Washington.   Lunch will follow in the Fellowship Hall.


Bill, as his friends knew him, was born in Marion, Ohio on April 12, 1917.  He was the only child of Frank B. Shannon and Irene Redd Shannon.  As a child, he enjoyed his many collections, fishing, and Boy Scout activities.


      Bill attended Harding High School in Marion and Ohio Northern University at Ada, Ohio.  At ONU, he was a member of Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity, served as manager of the University track team, and was editor and photographer of the class yearbook.  His many pictures include the two-page university photo on the inside cover.   He graduated in 1939 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering.


      After graduation, Bill was hired by the Northern Pacific Railway as a Special Apprentice.  During World War II, at the request of his draft board, Bill remained with the railroad serving the war effort by keeping soldiers and equipment moving throughout the railroad system.  As an engineering trouble-shooter, he was constantly on the move with assignments across the country from St. Paul, Minnesota to Seattle, Washington.  He also spent considerable time working in the mobile testing lab known as the “Dynamometer” car.


In 1945 he met and married Helen Jean Hager of Kerkhoven, Minnesota.  They were married for 58 years.  Their family, raised in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, consisted of four children: Harold, Patricia, David, and Suzanne.  Here the family enjoyed many lake activities, including swimming, water skiing, fishing, and ice-skating.  Each summer included a family camping trip.


Bill served the Northern Pacific Railway, and later the Burlington Northern, in various management capacities, working his way up to Chief Mechanical Officer of the Northern Pacific, and later with the Burlington Northern as Assistant Vice President of Operations in Billings, Montana.  His last 7 ˝ years, prior to retiring from the railroad industry, were with Trailer Train Company in Chicago where he served as Vice President of Equipment.  In total, Bill’s railroad career spanned 40 years.  He was a lifetime member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Society of Automotive Engineers.  He also served as President of the Western Railway Club and was a member of the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association.


      Upon his retirement, Bill and Jean moved to Port Ludlow, Washington to be nearer their children and to enjoy the golf and boating the area provided.  Bill took an active part in the community, serving as president of the Highland Greens Owners Association and attending the Port Townsend First Presbyterian Church.  Bill and Jean traveled extensively throughout the United States and the world, including Russia, China, Mongolia, the Holy Land, the Caribbean, Central America, the British Isles, Scandinavia, Europe, Egypt and Africa.   Bill was planning a trip to South America and Antarctica when he was hospitalized this past year.


Bill is survived by his wife Jean Shannon of Port Ludlow, Washington; his son Harold Shannon and his wife Sandy of Aloha, Oregon; his daughter Pat Holten and her husband Richard of Richland, Washington; his son David Shannon and his wife Vicki of Shepherd, Montana; and his daughter Sue VonEschen and her husband Greg of Rockford, Michigan.  Surviving grandchildren are Loree Shannon; Julee Basinger and her husband Dave; Ben, Erica, and Annie Holten; Jeff and Kara Shannon; and Jon and David VonEschen.


Bill Shannon’s legacy survives in the strong, dedicated, and productive families he helped raise.


In lieu of flowers, the family requests remembrances be made to the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association, P.O. Box 2937, Kirkland, WA.98083-2937.