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    Posted December 13, 2014 by
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Those we lost in 2014

    Francis J. Shane - Our Dad, Our Hero


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Monica Shane's father Francis passed away on July 3, 2014, at the age of 67. When she was little, she remembers her dad hosting a weekly Big Band radio show. Every Sunday night, she and her mother would eagerly listen to him announce each song over the air. "I was only four years old, but when I heard him say: 'This next one is dedicated to my little girl, Monica. This is her favorite song, and it's a great one,' I felt so famous!" she wrote to CNN.
    - Jareen, CNN iReport producer

    Our dad, Francis J. Shane, passed away on July 3 this year from complications associated with diabetes at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, NJ; he was only 67 years old.
    He was truly an amazing man; he was a brilliant thinker, he was a hard worker, he was a romantic, and always, but especially in recent years, he was sentimental and sweet.


    He was a true paragon of the Renaissance man and enjoyed a varied and accomplished career as well as many long-cultivated interests. He grew up in Philadelphia, PA where he attended North Catholic High School, after which he joined the U.S. Navy where he worked as a radioman on the USS Cheboygan County (LST-533).


    Following an Honorable Discharge from his Naval tour of duty, he graduated from Peirce College, attended the University of Pennsylvania, and received his B.A. from Temple University—during and after which he worked briefly as a middle school teacher at St. Jerome’s parish school, then as a features writer and political reporter for the Juniata News and later for the Intercounty Newspaper Group. His articles highlighted people and events of import and raised awareness of various causes that contributed to the public good.


    Highly trained in public relations and communications, he accepted a position in Northern Minnesota as public relations director for the Catholic Diocese of Duluth, and because he had enjoyed working with students, he kept his hand in education by teaching courses at Mesabi Community College. During this time, he also hosted two weekend programs for radio station WHLB in Virginia, MN: one a call-in talk show featuring a wide variety of guests; the other a Sunday night show that featured WWII-era Swing Band recordings. The latter evolved from an interest sparked by his earlier article-related interview with Benny Goodman at the Valley Forge Music Fair.


    On returning to the Philadelphia area in 1984, our dad became a division director for the March of Dimes for several years before resuming his journalism career, which fostered his growing interest in local and national politics. He worked on several Philadelphia area campaigns in both Philadelphia and Harrisburg, which led to his becoming the Pennsylvania campaign manager for Bob Dole’s presidential nomination bid in 1988. After the election he earned his Certified Association Executive credential and worked as an executive director for a number of organizations, including the National Genealogical Society based in Arlington, Virginia, and the National Limousine Association based in Marlton, New Jersey.


    His interests included American history, photography, wood-working, and of course Phillies baseball. Ever the writer, he also wrote poetry and fiction, having penned two collections of poetry: Vision of a Moment published in 1973, and an unpublished manuscript, Dreams with Wings and Other Things. He completed two unpublished novels as well, Turning Point, and A Damaged Soul, and was working on a third novel when he took ill.


    If you asked me to describe our dad in one word, it would be optimistic.


    He was an optimist about everything, from the start of a new friendship, a new book, a new job, his health…everything. He refused to let anything get him down; he worked hard and persevered through every curveball life threw at him, and he never complained - he just did what had to be done.


    He also always had a good story to tell, because he was interested in life and in people. He would ask questions because he really wanted to hear what you had to say, and he made you feel special because he listened and was supportive. And he was full of good advice.


    I vividly remember our lively political debates when I was in college; I would get so heated because he knew everything about anything and could back up what he said; and while I would be arguing away, he would sit back and smile and say he didn't care which side I came down on, he was just glad I was thinking.


    Right up until the end, even when he was tired and weak, he still had a smile, a joke, and a kind word for those who were taking care of him. 


    Many people didn't know that our dad was a beautiful poet, and I would like to include the poem he wrote for his mother when she died, because his words rang true for us this summer when we lost him.


    When the Saints Came


    I never believed the Saints
    would come for you
    I knew they would
    But I never really believed it
    You were here for me.


    You gave me life
    and now you have shown me death
    You were scared - I know that
    I wanted to take it away
    If only to breathe part of my life
    into you - make you stay
    Even for one more day.


    But you left at night
    Not even you knew you were going
    I cried - we all cried - we still cry
    My childhood fear has come true
    Though not a child -
    I’m still not prepared
    Yet - thankful for the years.


    Bleary eyed I marched to your funeral
    Halfway across the country
    Bravely - Alone
    You waited for me
    A son broken by reality.


    I slept in your bed that night
    While you waited - alone
    We spoke about your kindness
    Your laughter, your singing
    While God listened


    Our words were for us
    The Saints had already spoken
    A gentle life never goes unnoticed

    I watched them carry you to your grave
    I heard the rifles and accepted the flag
    Your nation wept with us
    As your children watched with pride
    I wanted you to see what I saw.


    I wanted you to know, one more time,
    That I love you
    I wanted to look into your eyes
    and say thank you
    I wanted to tell you
    That I’m sorry I wasn’t more
    And that I know no one will
    ever think as highly of me again.


    When the Saints came for you
    It was the middle of my life
    I still find your notes,
    Hear your voice in my mind
    And feel your ever existence in my day
    And for those feelings
    I am thankful.


    Our dad was our cheerleader and our hero, and he was a true patriot. We had a beautiful military burial for him at at the Washington Crossing National Cemetery in Newtown, PA that would have made him proud. He leaves behind four daughters and one son: two sisters, eight grandchildren and one great-grandson, as well as very close extended family and wonderful, life-long friends. We miss him every day, but he left us with a lifetime of memories, and for that we are grateful.


    Photo courtesy National Limousine Association

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