SACC Honors Tom Shonley
SUBMITTED BY GAIL ARNOTT
Who will fill Tom and Vinetta Shonley’s shoes now that they’ve moved to Mitchell? The Springs Area Community Club and visiting guests struggled with this question Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at the SACC weekly noon meeting as they honored the Shonleys for their 54 years of exemplary service to our community.
Tom’s keen wit, ready smile, and creative programs have been a Kiwanis and SACC staple for the past 23 years. Fellow SACC member Gail Arnott highlighted Tom’s many contributions to our community as follows:
United Methodist Church – Church Board, taught junior high Sunday, the expert on the history of the stained glass windows, and Tom was the “go-to-guy” for furnace issues.
Masons: Master in 1964.
Boy Scouts — Troopmaster Troop 95 in the 70s.
Weskota Manor – regularly and warmly visited with residents. Most recently Tom was a volunteer at the Manor.
Hillcrest Heights administration – 21 years (Vinetta 17).
Plumbing and heating — Has Tom been in your bathroom? He bought Darin McDonald’s plumbing and heating business in 1957 and served as our town plumber for over 30 years.
Drama – playwright and actor: wrote & starred in The Patriot – remember Tom with beard and top-hat as Honest Abe reciting “Four score and seven years ago….”, The Old Hillbillies, and BB’s Time Machine. He’s also helping Mindy Kraft with her playwriting and video documentary on church history. Actor – numerous lead roles for the Shakespeare Garden summer plays. Who’s on First? — flawlessly memorized in spite of vision challenges.
Buggy Seat Cowboys – 1981 charter member and director.
Historian – skilled researcher & writer. Dedicated volunteer with Dunham Historical Society. Researched and wrote histories of UMC and local baseball. Also a major contributor to The Making of a Community – A History of Jerauld County to 1980 and Footprints in Jerauld County – A Historical Update of Jerauld County from 1980-2004. His thoughtful and seminal research and authoring included: Jerauld County – It’s Early History 1650-1866; The Legend of Wessington; The Last of the Buffalo; Our Natural Springs; The Unsung Hero—Cleveland Hall; Land Surveys of Jerauld County; Jerauld County—It’s Legal Origin and Courthouses; The Religious Colony; Hillcrest Heights; Wessington Springs Field House; and Beginnings of Aviation in Jerauld County.
Sense of Humor & Courage — an ideal model for “how to age gracefully and creatively.” Tom does not let vision & hearing & etc. slow him down.
When asked what would Tom most like to be remembered for, he said: Aren’t we making too much of this? So I’ll remember Tom’s humility, his smile, wit, creativity, and wisdom … and most of all his friendship. Jeff Adel suggested a quote that’s appropriate from Ruyard Kipling’s If…it begins: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs….. If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same, …. Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.” And as Jeff says “I’m always in a better mood when I talk with Tom. Please let Tom and Vinetta know they are in our prayers, and that we wish them the best in their move. ” No one can fill your shoes.