The late George Shannon was celebrated yesterday at a memorial hosted by his colleagues, students, mentees, friends and family at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. Shannon passed away on March 1, 2023 at the age of 84.
As both the Instructional Associate Professor of Gerontology at the University of Southern California (USC) and holder of the Kevin Xu Chair in Gerontology, as well as director of the Rongxiang Xu Regenerative Life Science Research Lab at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, Professor Shannon inspired all with his zest for learning and driving desire to better the lives of so many.
“People always ask me if it’s too late to go back to school and I always say no,” stated the professor in an oft-shared interview for USC News in 2018.
Shannon lived a storied life; born in Chicago, IL on December 30, 1939, he went on to become an actor, studying with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York and Los Angeles and with Josephine Forsberg at Second City in Chicago. He performed in dozens of plays and films across the globe and appeared in soap operas such as Generations on NBC, Search for Tomorrow, General Hospital, The Young and the Restless and How to Survive a Marriage.
Following his success as an actor, Shannon enrolled in college at age 55 – drawn to gerontology after taking a class on women and aging. “I was appalled,” he told a USC publication, after learning about aging women in poverty, many reeling from the gender pay gap or losing the sole breadwinner in their household. “I have four daughters. I thought this is something I can learn more about and contribute to.”
At the age of 64 he became a gerontology educator and researcher, which is how he came to be such a beloved USC faculty member.
“With his commitment to creativity, learning and giving back to future generations, George personified the best principles of gerontology, said USC Leonard Davis School Dean Pinchas Cohen. “He lived life to its fullest and that is perhaps the greatest lesson he leaves for us all.”
According to USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology website, Shannon taught 14 different courses at the school and published seven peer-reviewed papers that investigated innovative ways to provide long-term care services to under-served older adults living in the community, in nursing homes and in assisted living.
Professor Shannon lectured at meetings and conferences in China and the U.S., authoring and co-authoring around 15 grant proposals and final reports to funding organizations, such as the California Healthcare Foundation, Kaiser-Permanente and the Motion Picture & Television Foundation.
In addition, he worked as an editor or reviewer for five top-rated Gerontology and Geriatrics Journals in his spare time.
He is survived by his wife Ellen, his five daughters, Mary Shannon (Tom Amenda), Elizabeth Shannon Reedy (Daniel), Margaret Shannon, Catherine Shannon (James Collins) and Phoenix Rising; eleven grandchildren, Thomas, Norah, Claire, Amanda, Harlan (Lindsay) Nora, Henry Kathleen, Daniel, David and Chacta (Emily); two great grandchildren, Jemma and Zeke; his brother Terrence; and nieces and nephew Tracey, Sandra Kelly and Michael.
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