My grandmother, Joan Shannon, was a dancer. As a teenager in New Jersey and New York City, she studied modern dance under Martha Graham. Rather than joining Graham's company, she chose to go to Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. While at Antioch, she was asked to teach modern dance classes, and met William G. Shannon, the returning vet who became her husband for 68 years.
1. A very young Joan bravely standing at the railing on a ferry in New Jersey. (1920s)
She taught modern dance at the Cedar Lane Unitarian Church for more than 50 years. At least two generations of women owe their love of modern dance to her skills at teaching with compassion and enthusiasm. She also had a passion for human rights. Among many other efforts, Joan participated in the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, led the integration of the Cedarbrook Swimming and Tennis Club, and started the first integrated Boy Scout troop in Montgomery County.
Her guiding principle was always to look for the good in each person. She believed in giving of herself in support of others so they could thrive and flourish.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in her name to the Encampment for Citizenship (encampmentforcitizenship.org), a social justice program Joan and Bill supported that empowers young people to make a positive difference in their communities.
Expats, those who have left their home towns, travelers and freaks are especially welcome.