Thursday, April 26, 2012

Remembering My Sister, Alice Eugenia Newman Shannon

 Alice and I at our parent's grave site in Norris, September, 2011.

Dear friends and readers of this blog,

My sister died peacefully this morning around 12:30 AM at the Alive Hospice residential center in Nashville. We had moved her there yesterday afternoon around 5:00 PM from Centennial Hospital. At 8:30 PM her breathing became very shallow and labored. She was then given a shot of Dilaudid to help with her comfort and breathing.

My sister spent her life in service to others. On November 3, 1944 (21 days before I was born) her first grade teacher, Mrs. Irene Plumlee, wrote on Alice’s report card:
Alice is a very good and energetic student in the schoolroom and on the playground. She is very good in number work, art, drawing, and has shown a great improvement in manuscript writing. She is full of initiative and is a natural born leader. She is very good at sharing her property with others.
Mrs. Plumlee’s early assessment of Alice was extremely accurate. My sister remained throughout her life a very thoughtful, caring and compassionate human being. She was an excellent student, always near or at the top of her class. She was the president of the Student Council her senior year at Norris High School. She graduated from George Peabody College as an honor student with three degrees.

Her senior year at Peabody she won the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award that is given annually “to recognize individuals whose ‘nobility of character’ and dedication to service has sets them apart as examples for others.” The award is highly prized, and over the years has been bestowed on many outstanding people, including Eleanor Roosevelt and Fred Rogers.

In the early 1960s my sister was chosen by Dr. Nicholas Hobbs to be one of the first Re-Ed Teacher-Counselors at Cumberland House School. Project Re-Ed at the time was a new approach to working with children and youth who had been diagnosed with emotional disturbance, behavior disorders, and/or a mental illness.

Re-Ed was based on educational, psychological and ecological principles. It sought "to help children and their families in near to natural settings as possible, strengthening support systems, reducing discord and helping children learn to make use of normal sources of affection, instruction and discipline."

Within ten years my sister had become the Director and Principle of Cumberland House School. She continued to lead the program for another 10 years, helping to establish it as an internationally recognized program for working with "troubled and troubling" children and their families.

As Mrs. Plumlee said my sister was full of initiative and a natural born leader who was very good at sharing her gifts with others. In short, she was a very good person who led an inspiring life of integrity and service to her family, her friends and her community.

Carolyn, Jeff, Alice and Dee  Norris Lake September, 2011

Alice at overlook above Norris Dam


20 comments:

mythopolis said...

I am so sorry to learn this and to know of your loss Dee. You stood by her so closely during her fight and ultimate decline. She always had some inner peacefulness about her, I think. That's how I remember her anyway - and I won't ever forget her.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you, Dee....and your dear, sweet Alice. Such an extraordinary blessing for her to have all these days of devotion and care from you in the last days of her life. I will always remember Alice with such admiration and fondness. love from Judi

Debbie said...

Heartfelt blessings sent your way, Dee. Alice was mighty fortunate to have you as a brother. I love what you have shared about her. Peace be with you.
Deb

Siri said...

Dee, I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you.

-Siri

Judy said...

I am so sorry, Dee

Alice was my hero for sure. You were lucky to have each other. Used to love hearing her tell stories of your childhood. She will be missed. Much love, Judy

Stickup Artist said...

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your sister. She sounds like such a wonderful person and so accomplished. I can tell you really loved and admired her, as I'm sure she did you. She definitely touched many lives and left many people, especially kids, better off than they were before crossing her path. I'm glad you were able to share some of her story with us here. You are a wonderful, sweet brother...

Anonymous said...

Nice post, Dee, and thank you for writing it so all of us could still learn new things about Alice. I am going to share this with my family and friends. Carolyn

Anonymous said...

I just wish I could have met your parents. How extraordinary they must have been to have created you and Alice. As others have said, to be loved, admired, appreciated by,and cared for by you, is a testament to Alice. You both endured such loss and now, you have survived even more. Not right but as usual, you give comfort to the rest of us as she did. Take care of you because the rest of us and the planet need you; our sweet, beautiful Dee.
Love,
Rae

Irwin Goldzweig said...

Dee - your words are a wonderful tribute to Alice and I love the photos. I'm thinking about Jeff, Carolyn and you and share your sadness. I learned a lot from Alice while at Cumberland House and will always remember that she gave me the opportunity to work there --- where I met my dear Betty. Irwin

Roy Hutton said...

Dee, Working with Alice at Cumberland House was one of the most important learning experiences I ever had, bar none. She was relentless in her expectations of excellence , for herself and for all those who worked with the children there. I often repeat her wisdom to those I see in my practice. I tell them I had a teacher once. . . Then I say something that moves the thing forward. I always was happy knowing she respected my work. And that she always wondered if maybe we could do a little more. I admired her very much, she was unwavering, did not need acclaim, demanded the best , gave the best. And she was such a graceful skater. Seems she had an inner gyroscope that guided her. She was your wonderful sister and I am honored to have known her. I also encouraged her to hire you at Cumberland House, I was pretty vehement about it actually. I share your loss.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dee,

Such a beautiful tribute to an amazing woman, your dear Sister, Jeff's Mom and friend and supporter to so many ( me included) Dee, I did not know all those facts about Alice's life, but being around Alice you could feel the love, support, appreciation. She taught me a lot just observing the grace and depth to which she so lovingly shared herself with others. And so deeply connected to appreciate so many things about oneself that you don't often hear, even from your bestest of friends. She just gave so much and was so absolutely present when she was with you. I always came away feeling like the world was better from being with her.

I think of her often and will continue to hold her in my heart as I do YOU! You have been a terrific brother and I know that you, Jeff and Caroline and of course Alice have braved through the most difficult and painful time. But you all did it with love and support and I know having her beautiful family ever present was the greatest gift. You are all treasures and I wish you all healing in this profound passage of a glorious life....WELL LIVED!

Love you Dee!

Sydney

Anonymous said...

I wish I had know your parents better. You and Alice are such amazing human beings, I just assume much of that came from them. You are a dear brother and friend. I am grateful for our 35 + year friendship. We are with you!
Love,
Jill and Don

Sandra Jo said...

Dee, a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing it. One of the vivid memories I have of Alice was when she briefly had a craft shop. Harking to her teacher recognizing her artist eye. Alice and I were illegality taking water lily pods from a pond on Oak Ridge property. We saw no problem. After all your father worked there. There was Alice knee deep in water, her arms full of pods when the security guard put his spotlight on her. He wouldn't even let us take the pods that were harvested....it was very embarrassing and fun.
Love, Sandra

Stevie said...

What an amazing life! So loved and respected. My condolences dear friend. - Stevie

Anonymous said...

Was sorry to hear this news, then I saw these pictures and how good (and happy) she looked. You are such a good brother, I'll be thinking of you Dee, Take care,
Diane Shannon

Anonymous said...

Dee,
I am so grateful to have known Alice, both at work and as an "outlaw". Your remembrance is wonderful. She was very lucky to have you as a brother. Love to you.
Ann.

Sara said...

My condolences to you and your family Dee.
Sara

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss, dear friend. Alice was a remarkable person and I feel very fortunate to have known her. She was blessed to have you by her side with your infinite love and compassion. Thank you for sharing such a lovely tribute and wonderful photos. Please take special care of yourself.
Love and blessings,
Jennifer

Bill Hatcher said...

Remembering Alice
Dee, I remember Alice from my earliest days with you, when we were 7 or 8 and Alice would have been 15 or 16, trying to keep an occasional eye on us as we ran and played around your house, with Rip and Spot(?) following. The pictures of Alice on this site are beautiful and amazing. Having known your mother and father pretty well, it was a wonderful feeling to so clearly see them in the face of Alice up at the overlook. Nellie and “Chink” were also readily observable in the in the faces of you, Alice and Jeff in that 2011 picture of the three of you, with Carolyn, boating on Norris Lake.
I remember the many years your mother led our singing during the youth worship on Sundays before the regular church service; and Alice substituting for her, when your mother was unable to be there.
And just a few years later Alice had the Norris Recreation Director position, playing a large role in the lives of each of us Norris kids that summer. I’ll never forget Alice driving around in that tiny little Metropolitan, which she said got 40 MPG but seemed so small.
My next memory was the last time I remember seeing her; at your house, in the TV room, your mother on the chaise lounge, your dad watching through the opening to the kitchen; Cris and I were there, Sam was there of course, and Alice went through paintings / drawings that you had done for some art class at UT. Alice went through each of those excellent works, carefully and critically reviewed each piece, and provided her analysis for comparison to comments your professor had written on the back. It seemed obvious that Alice was a more thorough and knowledgeable art critic than the professor.
Indeed she was very talented, loving and loved by all. Everyone who ever knew Alice will cherish her memory, as I do.

Anonymous said...

Dee.I shall treasure the happy pictures and will print the special one of Alice for framing...altho' not necessary as she is in my heart....it is the wonderfu look on her face that I want to keep on my special shelf...Jeff...I was present when you were born and you chose your parents well!