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Post Messenger Recorder PMR New Glarus Monticello Belleville News Publishing


February 27, 1937-February 9, 2022


February 24, 2022

Larry Shanahan

Larry Shanahan died peacefully on the morning of Wednesday, February 9th, in the loving company of a good friend and his niece. Born in Elmhurst, Illinois, in 1937, Larry was raised in Milwaukee, graduated from Marquette High School in 1954, then obtained both his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees at Marquette University. He then went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he received his Ph.D. in English Literature. His specialty was the 19th century, with a focus on American plains literature.

While in Madison he met and fell in love with his future wife, Mary Ellen Steussy, who was also pursuing a Ph.D. in English. He described her as "the girl next door" (they had apartments across the hall from each other in downtown Madison). They married in 1965, at her grandfather Nic Freitag's farm, just outside of New Glarus. After leaving UW-Madison, they taught at major universities in the Midwest, eventually finding teaching positions in the literature department at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, where they worked side-by-side for the next thirty years. They retired in 2000, and returned to Green County to a beautiful house in the country that they had built to escape the brutal summer heat and the odd tornado in Oklahoma.

After Mary's death in 2016, Larry moved into a duplex next to Bob and Sherry Bergum, who induced him to rejoin the New Glarus Lions Club and to join the Swiss United Church of Christ. The fellowship of both was a great benefit to Larry while the spiritual comfort afforded by the church was invaluable as he grieved his beloved wife's death. Though Larry and Mary never had children, they loved their cats, Fancy and Fitzgerald. Larry continued to stay close to Mary's extended family, many of whom return to New Glarus each summer. When he wasn't at leisure (or, as he put it, "frittering his time away"), Larry enjoyed reading and listening to classical music. A devoted and beloved teacher, Larry inspired in his students a love of literature as essential to a life well lived. A kind, gentle, attentive, and generous person, Larry will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and students.

He is survived by Robin and Michael Shanahan; by his grandnieces, Laura Premo and Alexis Shanahan; and by the many members of the Steussy and Freitag families who loved him deeply.

Larry's ashes will be interred with Mary's in a memorial garden at Nic Freitag's Hillside Dairy farm.

If you choose to honor Larry's memory, please make a donation to the New Glarus Public Library building fund ( ) or the Swiss United Church of Christ ( ).


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