Jane S. Shanks – Obituary

Jane S. Shanks

Nancy Jane Stephens was born June 1, 1925, in Sierra Blanca, Texas. She spent her final days surrounded by her family at home in Burbank, California and passed away peacefully at the age of 95 on the morning of January 10, 2021.
At age 83, when asked to sum up her life in six words or less Jane responded, “Been There, Done That, Worth It.”
Jane grew up along the Rio Grande border between Texas and Mexico, 88 miles south of El Paso, in a small railroad town serving cattle ranchers, the daughter of Johnny Philomel Cox Stephens and Grover Cleveland Stephens and sister to Wyman, Grover, and James Stephens, all of whom predeceased her. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, at the University of Texas, Austin. While attending UT Austin, Jane met her future husband, Robert Ellsworth Shanks, who was stationed there for naval flight training. After her brother Wyman was killed in April 1945, aboard the USS Mobile in the South Pacific, and her previously arranged May wedding date was canceled, Jane boarded a train to travel alone across country to Boston where the couple married in the Harvard University Chapel on June 16, 1945. After the war, the couple returned briefly to Texas, before settling in California, where Robert, known as Bob to friends and family, finished his schooling at USC, earning master and doctorate degrees in Education.
In her twenties, Jane was a busy young mother to four children while her husband established himself in his career as an educator. Bob became the Superintendent of Elementary Schools for Anaheim in 1957. Meanwhile, Jane taught Sunday school and contributed in many roles to the family’s church, Anaheim First Presbyterian. Through her PEO Chapter in Anaheim, and through her other activities with neighbors and friends in the community, Jane was known and loved during her years in Anaheim.
The family moved to Burbank after Bob became Superintendent of Burbank Unified Schools in 1967. They joined the Burbank First Presbyterian Church, where they remained members throughout their remaining lives. Dr. Shanks passed away in 1990.
Jane sought to serve others, to mentor, and to be a friend, drawing upon her considerable energies during the full of her 52 years in Burbank. At Burbank First Presbyterian she taught Sunday school, served meals in the Lord’s Kitchen, and served multiple terms as an Elder, a Deacon, and representative to the Presbyterian Synod. Jane was also an active member, contributor, and officer in La Providencia Guild. She worked in the Daisy Thrift shop and served terms as chairwoman for the Guild’s annual ball. Jane was a beloved member of the PEO Sisterhood, Burbank Chapter U.
Jane also taught English as a Second Language and was appreciated throughout Burbank by her many students from the Burbank Schools Adult Education Program. Her students would often greet her in local restaurants, stores, and businesses, thanking her for her dedication to their learning and her support.
For more than 20 years, Jane played piano for community singing at St. Elizabeth’s home. She began by accompanying her dear friend Joan Fontana and later was accompanied by her son James on the guitar and banjo, as together they led song and music for the residents. They continued playing until the pandemic ended the volunteer visits. She and James were known and loved throughout the years they served as musicians.
Jane is survived by her four children and their spouses: Wyman Stephens Shanks (Marsha), James Henry Shanks, Jane Anne Chambers (Michael) and Priscilla Claire Shanks Chattah (Leon), her five grandchildren: Michelle Shanks Lagestee (Mark), Scott Shanks (Alisa) and Amy Shanks Martinez (Carl), Charles Chambers (Brittani) and Lydia Jane Dillier (Matthew) and nine great-grandsons ranging in age from their early 20s to just under a year old: Michael, Ryan and Tyler Lagestee, Brayden and Dylan Shanks, Jacob and Nathan Martinez, Cameron Chambers and Ellis Dillier. Her nephew Samuel, a member of the Stephens family, also survives her.
A Celebration of Jane’s life will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Burbank, at a future date. Interment at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills will be family only. In lieu of flowers, donations in Jane’s honor may be directed to the First Presbyterian Church of Burbank, attention Rev. Dr. Ross Purdy, 521 E. Olive, Burbank, CA. 91501