Obituary: Coral "Jeanene” Lee Shannon put fashion sense to work at Wayzata's Red Door
- Article by: Jennifer Bjorhus
- Star Tribune
- May 6, 2014 - 7:29 PM
The Red Door is long gone, but Jeanene Shannon’s clothing shop was a popular stop in the 1970s. A few doors down from Village Meats in Wayzata’s downtown, it was a purveyor of classy yet hip pieces: argyle sweaters, blouses, turquoise jewelry and funky multicolored maxi dresses, her daughter recalled.
“My mom always had an incredible fashion sense,” said Kelly Shannon, a marketing executive at Loyola University in Chicago. “She did a lot of calling and said, ‘I have something that’s perfect for you.’ ”
Jeanene Shannon cut her teeth in business after dropping out of college to run the family’s two record stores in Columbus, Ohio, in the late 1940s. Her daughter said her mother applied the same business acumen to managing her home and family, which included five children, while their father’s career had them moving more than a dozen times. She was the family’s steady rock, Kelly said, managing the finances, assuring everyone got to lessons and school events and, in later years, caring for their father after he fell ill.
After a long fight with breast cancer, Jeanene Shannon died peacefully at her Wayzata home May 1 surrounded by family. She was 85.
Coral “Jeanene” Lee was born in 1928 in Price, Utah, to a family of four girls. They eventually landed in Columbus, where Jeanene’s father, an engineer, bought two record stores called Harmony and Melody when Jeanene was in her early 20s. She and one of her sisters managed them.
“Those were the days where you would pull a record and you’d go into a booth and all the kids would put their headphones on, and they’d dance in the booths to the records,” Kelly Shannon said.
Kelly said her mother told them that Nat King Cole once visited one of the shops to promote a record, and apologized to her when he didn’t draw a very large crowd.
Jeanene managed the shops for a few years in the late 1940s and then met Jack Shannon, the great love of her life. The two married in 1950 and began a life of true teamwork, the family said.
Jack worked as a women’s clothing buyer for a number of major retailers, and his career took them to Los Angeles and Cleveland before they landed in the Twin Cities in 1968 when he took a job with Donaldson’s in Minneapolis. The children attended high school in Orono.
The life of the Red Door was cut short when Shannon was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1973, and she closed the shop. But the cancer did not stop her, and she went on to manage the fur salon at the now closed Jackson Graves on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis.
Both Jeanene and Jack eventually got their real estate licenses, and she worked with Edina Realty.
When she wasn’t working, she was listening to music, doing needlepoint, painting or playing tennis, where she was fiercely competitive, the family said. Despite fighting cancer, Jeanene continued to work out six days a week at a gym until she was 83. She would always say that her oncologist would laugh every time she came in because nothing could stop her, Kelly said.
She was also a master bridge player. Kelly said she will always remember sitting in the kitchen with her sisters after they had all grown up, playing cards with their mother until 1 a.m. “and talking smack” about the card game. “That’s a moment of pure bliss for us,” said Kelly.
Jeanene Shannon is survived by her husband of 63 years; children Colleen of Arlington, Wash., John of Orono, Tim of Minnetonka, Kelly of Chicago, and Dan of Minnetonka; nine grandchildren and three great grandchildren. A memorial service has been held.
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