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In Memoriam: Shannon Stillwell Gossack (May 3, 1961 – Sept. 13, 2023)

Our worst fears were recently realized upon confirmation from the U.S. Embassy in Belize that our dearly loved sister, Shannon, passed away Sept. 13, 2023.

Shannon was born on May 3, 1961, in McMinnville, Oregon to Jud (James) and Donna Stillwell and was the youngest of five daughters. She was full of life and bubbling energy and with her long, brown curls and endearing personality she was the perfect baby sister.

Shannon attended elementary school at St. James, Memorial Elementary, a year in Libby, Montana and finally Sheridan, Oregon where she graduated from Sheridan High School in 1979. During high school she was a student leader and accomplished athlete. She was a skilled setter on the first place Volleyball Team, ran track, participated in student government and was a cheerleader. As a freshman at the University of Oregon she continued her cheerleading and subsequently parleyed her expertise into a job as a traveling instructor for cheer camps.

Shannon’s primary work life was as an entrepreneur and a fitness instructor par excellence. She built Silverton’s Total Body Health Club and taught various fitness classes there while running the business, raising her family and living in Silverton. Shannon was a hard worker and a talented decorator. Her hands-on work made every living space beautiful inside and out by showcasing her love of flowers and innate sense of design.

Her diagnosis of ovarian cancer in 2020 was devastating and although she was in remission when she went to Belize in March of 2022, the Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen lists metastasis due to ovarian cancer as the cause of her death.

Shannon tragically, was predeceased by her two beloved children, Nickolaus (2010) and Vanessa (2022). Her mother’s heart was broken by these losses. Shannon was a warm and loving mother as well as a cherished daughter, treasured sister and loyal and valued friend.

She was instrumental in creating Silverton’s Angel of Hope monument located at the Oregon Garden near the Gordon House. Here people can spend a quiet moment in reflection and remembrance of their loved ones. Engraved stones may be placed to commemorate those who are gone. The memorial speaks to Shannon’s resolve, her deep experience with loss and her boundless and enduring love.

Shannon touched many lives and will never be forgotten by her sisters, Kelly Stillwell, Angi Justen, Suzanne Singer-Alvarez and Judy Stillwell Toliver; her nieces, nephews, extended family, and her many lifelong friends.

Shannon was cremated in Belize, but her family intends to place a headstone in her memory near her mother and grandparents’ graves in Sheridan, Oregon. Although we were separated, we never left her and will forever hold her close in our hearts.

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