Gladys R. Shannon

Baltimore elementary school guidance counselor and substitute teacher was known as a gifted seamstress

January 19, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,

Gladys R. Shannon, a retired Baltimore elementary school guidance counselor and an accomplished clothes maker, died Jan. 10 of complications from Alzheimer's disease at Ruxton Health and Rehabilitation Center in Pikesville. She was 78.

Gladys Regina Thompson was born in Baltimore and lived in Wilson Park. After the death of her mother, she moved with a sister to an apartment in the 2500 block of Madison Ave.

"We essentially raised each other. I was 14, and Gladys was 15. We went to school every day, cooked dinners each evening and helped our father in his grocery store after school and on weekends," Marian E. Spencer said.

Because the two sisters were inseparable, friends often identified them as one unit, "GladysandMarian," Mrs. Spencer recalled.

After graduating from Douglass High School in 1950, she married Teddy Shannon Jr., a Bethlehem Steel worker. They later divorced.

"She remained at home during her children's early development and only sought employment when she was satisfied that their enrichment would not be hindered by her absence from the home," said a niece, Diane L. Spencer of Randallstown.

"She raised her children and then went out into the world to find her own path, going to school and becoming a professional," Ms. Spencer said.

Mrs. Shannon worked in clothing manufacture and retail sales, as a substitute teacher and as an aide in youth-related facilities.

She enrolled in college and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Coppin State College. She did further graduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University, where she obtained 30 advanced education credits.

For 25 years until retiring in the mid-1990s, Mrs. Shannon was a guidance counselor at Nicholas F. Dallas Sr. Elementary School.

Mrs. Shannon was sought after by family, friends and casual acquaintances to make clothing for them. The longtime Pikesville resident was also known for her perfectly crafted suits, coats, graduation attire and wedding dresses.

"She was an amazing seamstress. She could look at something and sew it. Or you could tell her that you wanted this neckline, bodice, sleeve or skirt style, and she could pull it together as only a designer could," Ms. Spencer said.

Mrs. Spencer said her sister "displayed a sense of style and an awareness of quality fabrics" that were surpassed by few clothiers.

Mrs. Shannon also was a cook and enjoyed entertaining friends in her home.

Her niece said that the skill she used to combine good food, music and congenial company resulted in "countless enjoyable social events."

Later in life, she became an avid golfer and continued to enjoy traveling.

She was a former active member of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in Govans and Friendship Baptist Church in Edmondson Village.

At her death, she was a member of New Antioch Baptist Church in Randallstown, where she had sung with its choir and had been active in the women's Bible study group.

Services were held Friday.

Also surviving are two sons, Steven Shannon of Windsor Mill and Rodney Shannon of Edmondson Village; a daughter, Teresa Hawkins of Woodlawn; four brothers, Rufus Thompson Sr., Kenneth Thompson, Robert Thompson and Glen Thompson, all of Baltimore; another sister, Janice Roberts of Baltimore; 12 grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and other nieces and nephews. Another son, Teddy Shannon III, died in 2004.

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