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December 4, 2012

Collette Joan Shannon

The Daily Star

---- — Collette Joan Shannon

ONEONTA — Collette Joan Shannon died at home on Dec. 1, 2012, after a long, courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 83.

Born Collette Joan Lake in Manly, Iowa, on Oct. 23, 1929, she was the daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth (Coogan) Lake.

Collette graduated from Manly High School and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Iowa State Teachers College (now University of Northern Iowa) at Cedar Falls. She majored in art and minored in industrial art.

Collette taught art in the Decorah, Iowa, public school then became assistant dormitory director at Iowa State Teachers College.

On Aug. 26, 1954, Collette married Jerry A Shannon Jr. of Meshoppen, Pa., in Manly, Iowa. Collette and Jerry moved to Oneonta in 1956, when he accepted a teaching position at SUNY Oneonta.

In addition to her role as a homemaker, Collette substituted for May Kedney as an art teacher in the Oneonta elementary schools and worked at Dairy Queen with Joan and Al Sayers Lutz for several years.

Collette combined her lifelong interest in art and music with her superb sewing skills as an avid volunteer in the Oneonta area. Working with Esther Elfenbein, Betty Fraley, Donna Briggs, Al Davino, Margarita and Olga Malinova and others, she constructed costumes for the

Glimmerglass Opera, Orpheus Theatre, Catskill Theatre Company, Cooperstown Theatre Festival and SUNY Oneonta theatre department for many years.

She helped with costumes for Joe Stillman’s video

“Ruby Moon” and embroidered sacraments for the First United Methodist Church designed by Jean Parish.

Along with her friend Richard Kubiak and many others, she was involved in the formation of the Upper Catskill Community Council of the Arts (UCCCA) and volunteered in the gallery.

An active member of Oneonta’s First United Methodist Church, she sang soprano in the choir under the direction of Kathleen Sisson and Raymond Paradise and was a member of the United Methodist Women’s

Elizabeth Circle.

She was also involved with the Oneonta Federated Garden Club, the Oneonta Women’s Club and SUNY Oneonta Faculty Wives over the years and drove for Road to Recovery cancer survivors.

An excellent knitter, she made beautiful sweaters for her family and friends and was a production knitter for sweater designer Barbara Riggs. She knitted shrugs that were distributed to area veterans and hats and scarves that her friend Kevingerrard Cannon distributed to New York City’s homeless.

She was also a great baker, renowned for her chocolate cake, pies, and fabulous Christmas cookie plates.

Collette loved cats, flowers, gardening and ice cream; visiting art galleries, attending concerts, going to auctions and refinishing furniture; and the special times she spent with The Sewing Ladies.

Collette’s sparkling blue eyes, sly smile and animated facial expressions were the hallmarks of her witty sense of humor and stayed with her throughout her long illness.

Collette is survived by husband, Jerry of Oneonta; daughter, Kathleen Shannon of Seattle, Wash.; daughter, Maureen Shannon Salzer and Matthew Salzer of Tucson, Ariz., and grandchildren, Timothy and Alison; daughter, Lizabeth Shannon of Oneonta; son, John Shannon and Heather Shannon of Jacksonville, N.C., and grandchildren, Connor and Elizabeth; sister, Mary Ann (Lake) Nye of Annapolis, Md.; sister, Patt (Lake) Bowman of Northfield, Minn.; nieces, nephews and their spouses and children. The family has lost contact with Collette’s brother, Benjamin

Lake, Jr.

The Shannon family would like to thank Catherine McCoy’s Uncommon Care team for their round-the-clock assistance for the past year. We are grateful that Collette was able to remain at home.

Collette will be cremated and her ashes strewn in various locations, including a small favorite prairie northwest of Cedar Falls, Iowa.

A memorial service to celebrate Collette’s life will be held at the First United Methodist Church, Oneonta, at a date to be announced.

As an alternative to flowers, the family suggests that memorial gifts be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, Leatherstocking Region Office, 140 Highway 33 West, Suite 2, Cooperstown, NY 13326.

Condolences to the family may be made online by visiting the website at

Arrangements are by the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, Oneonta.