Saturday, December 27, 2014

Dorothy Sample Shawhan, 1942-2014

 Sample Shawhan, educator and author, died after a brief illness on Sunday, December 21, 2014, in Tupelo.  In keeping with her truly benevolent spirit, Dorothy donated her body to science. A memorial service and celebration of her life will be held on Monday, December 29, 2014, at First United Methodist Church in Clevelandat 2 p.m. Visitation will be held prior to the service from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the church and on Sunday, December 28, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at her sister's home in Pontotoc County.

Born in Tupelo on July 16, 1942, to George Vay and Jessie Talley Sample, Dorothy was raised in Verona and graduated with honors from Tupelo High School in 1960. She continued her education at Mississippi State College for Women where she was an English major, serving in several class and student body leadership roles and again graduating with many honors. Postgraduate work included a M.A. Degree in English from LSU in 1966 and an MFA degree inCreative Writing from George Mason University in 1991.

In 1968 she married Ralph Thompson Shawhan, and they lived in Bloomington, Indiana where she worked as an editor for instructional television as well as an editor for IU Publications. In 1974 she and Ralph welcomed a son, George, to their family.

In 1981 Dorothy and George moved to Cleveland where she joined the faculty at Delta State University as an English instructor. She went on to become chair of the Department of Languages and Literature, serving in that position for fourteen years.

An avid reader and writer, Dorothy co-founded, with close friend Marion Barnwell, a literary journalTapestrywhich publishes faculty work at DSU and where many of her short stories have been published. She was also co-publisher for and contributor to a short story collection, On the Way Home, by Ruby Shoes Press, published in 1996. A running family joke is that you need to be careful what you say around "Aunt Da" or you will be reading it later in one of her stories. A proud feminist, Dorothy devoted much of her career to writing about strong women and their contributions. Her acclaimed novel, Lizziewas published in 1994, followeby the biography of Lucy Somerville Howorth which she co-authored with her dear friend Martha Swain. Another book, Spirit of the Delta: The Art of Carolyn Norris, chronicles the work of a self-taught artist and friendin whom Dorothy took a special interest and gave much encouragement. An all-things-Elvis fan, the electronic version of her novel Going to Graceland became available in 2012. Most recently she has been writing the biography of Fannye Cook, founder of theDepartment of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and the Natural Science Museum.

A life-long Methodist, Dorothy was an active member of the Cleveland First United Methodist Church. She was a founding member of the Cleveland Habitat for Humanity, serving on the Board for 10 years. She has served on the Board of Governors of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters for 24 years, always ensuring that creative Mississippians were nominated for awards. She was a member of AAUW and served as president of the local chapter for many years. She also served on the Mississippi University Press Board from 2004-2006 and as editor of The Journal of MCTE Mississippi Council of Teachers of English from 1984-1990.

In 1996 she was named the Mississippi Library Association Fiction Writer of the year and in 1997 the AAUW Woman of Achievement, Mississippi division. In 1998 she was awarded the MUW Alumni Achievement Award. Dorothy received the Mississippi Humanities Council's 2004 Teacher Award for Delta State University. In 2006she was honored by receiving the Kossman Teaching Award at DSU and was the fall commencement speaker.

Having a sweet spirit, a quick wit, a brilliant mind, and a genuine concern and love for her family, her friends, her students, her church and community, her life touched and enriched hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Her loss is mourned by her son, George Shawhan, and granddaughter Madeleine of Baton Rouge; her sister, Margaret Anne Robbins (Jimmy), Pontotoc; nephew Ned Mitchell (Mary Beth Lasseter), Vicksburg; niece Jessica Bendele (Marvin), Austin, TX; five great nieces and nephews; Ralph Shawhan, Franklin, Ohio; Anne Shawhan, Baton Rouge; and several cousins. Preceding her in death were her parents.

Memorial donations may be made to Cleveland Habitat for Humanity, 311 S. Court St., Cleveland, MS 38732; MIAL, P. O. Box 2346, Jackson, MS 39225; DSU Foundation, Language and Literature Fund, Box 3141 DSU, Cleveland, MS 38733; Cleveland First United Methodist Church, 318 South Court St., Cleveland, MS 38732; MUW, 1100 College St., MUW-1618, Columbus, MS39701; or to the charity of one's choice.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this, Ned. Love to all--Frances


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