A Lion of Georgetown: Don Shannon, 1923-2020

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Don Shannon, 1923-2020. Courtesy John Shannon.

Don Shannon, longtime Washington journalist for the Los Angeles Times and a past president of the Citizens Association of Georgetown, died on July 17 at a hospice outside Charleston, South Carolina, where he had lived since 2016.

“A lion of Georgetown has left us,” said CAG’s Richard deC. Hinds. “Don was a wonderful, warm, energetic person. … Don was very vocal about his opinions of politicians who he felt let D.C. down. At one memorable CAG meeting following another reelection of Marion Barry, the ‘Mayor for Life’ had been invited to speak about his plans. Don began a question about something Barry said by addressing him as ‘Mayor Sleazebag’ to the consternation but also delight of those present. However, on most issues Don was more temperate, a voice of reason whose views commanded respect.”

Son of Ernest V. and Alice Fern McConville Shannon, Donald Hawkins Shannon was born on Feb. 1, 1923, in Auburn, Washington. He and his mother later moved to San Diego. He went to Stanford University and served in World War II. Shannon began his journalism career in Rio de Janeiro and then went to London, where he met his future wife Sally Van Deurs. After working in Tokyo and New York for the L.A. Times, he moved to Washington — specifically 30th Street, right near the C&O Canal, in Georgetown.

As the family recalls: “He and Sally both loved Washington, where they had many friends and attended countless official and social events. They lived in a federal period townhouse in Georgetown. When he bought it in 1951, the city had condemned it as uninhabitable. The Shannons were champions of Georgetown. (After he relocated to Bishop Gadsden, however, he admitted that Charleston’s architecture rivaled that of his beloved Georgetown.)

“They were charter members of the City Tavern Club; and Donald was a member, and chairman for one term, of the Citizens Association of Georgetown. The Shannons were popular hosts and guests. They were longtime parishioners of Christ Church (Episcopal) Georgetown and members of the Georgetown Cotillion. Sally died in 2006. Donald is survived by his son, John McConville Shannon (Curtis M. Estes), of Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina; his daughter, Susanna Shepard Shannon; and two granddaughters, Rebecca Oudin-Shannon and Samantha Christina Shannon, all of France.

“Donald’s wish was that he be cremated and his ashes interred at Christ Church Georgetown, alongside Sally’s. A memorial service will be held there when circumstances permit.”

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