Community volunteer, athlete, outdoorsman
A resident of Claremont for 66 years, Ellis Reid Shannon died from a hemorrhagic stroke at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center on June 20. He was 84.
He was born August 24, 1934 in Shanghai, while his father was serving as air attaché to Chiang Kai-shek, who led the Republic of China between 1928 and 1975. He spent four years in China before moving to Argentina, where his father trained pilots.
The family then moved on to Baltimore, Maryland, where his dad worked as a test pilot. Next they sank roots in La Jolla, California, where his father headed the experimental flight program for a company that eventually became General Dynamics.
Young Reid began taking tennis lessons while working as a ball boy for internationally known players such as Pancho Segura. He was coached by 1930s pro tennis star Les Stoefen, who won three Grand Slam titles in that decade. He finished his high school years at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, where he was both the state’s top-ranked junior tennis player and swimmer. In summers, he worked as a lifeguard in La Jolla.
He attended Claremont Men’s College (now Claremont McKenna), taking a year off to compete on the professional tennis circuit. At CMC he also swam, was quarterback of the football team, and played second base on the baseball team.
The friendships he forged with his teammates lasted his entire life. He was proud to be a member of CMC’s ROTC unit and after graduation served in the US Army Corps of Engineers, then in the reserves for many years.
Mr. Shannon met Georgia Warnock while at CMC, and they married in 1958. They quickly expanded the family, adding two children: Sarah (Sally) and Neal.
Together with CMC classmate Tom Ussher, he opened Claremont’s first sporting goods store, The Sportsman, across the street from the post office, in 1958. He later owned a second store, Beaman’s Sporting Goods in Pomona.
Mr. Shannon’s store wasn’t called The Sportsman for nothing; he was never happier than when he was camping, fishing or duck hunting. The family fondly remembers weeklong backpacking trips in the Sierras, the Bridger Wilderness, and the Olympic rainforest, all with delicious lakeside trout dinners.
A longtime member of Ducks Unlimited and the California Waterfowl Association, Mr. Shannon helped maintain three duck clubs and planted feeding ponds on the duck flyways of the Coachella Valley.
Closer to home, he helped organize Claremont’s first Little League team in June 1959, and coached Little League, Pinto and Pony teams for years, as well as the girl’s softball and boy’s baseball teams at the Webb Schools. He was also a founding member and a board member of the Claremont Tennis Club (now The Claremont Club).
Mr. Shannon was an active member of the Claremont Rotary Club, and served as its president in 1978-79. Notably, he introduced an innovative CPR training program at El Roble Intermediate School that continues to this day.
He was involved for decades with LeRoy’s Home for Boys (now Haines Children’s Services), serving three terms as president of the board, and was a member of the Bear Valley Gang for 50 years.
His community service continued after he and Mrs. Shannon moved to Mt. San Antonio Gardens, where he chaired several committees. There, his sporting interests continued, although in a fashion a bit more sedentary, as a member of four bridge clubs as well as enjoying the fellowship of the billiards club.
He is survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Georgia; his beloved children Sarah (Todd) and Neal (Wendi) and grandchildren Justin, Claire, Emily and Celia; great grandchildren Emma and newly arrived Camden; sister, Ann Bowers; and niece, Beth.
A celebration of Mr. Shannon’s life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 27 at Mt. San Antonio Gardens Assembly, 900 E. Harrison Ave., Pomona.