Marlan Leroy Shanks was born on July 20, 1940 in Portola, CA, and passed away on August 5, 2021 in Vallejo, CA. He was the only child of Margaret Edwards and Glenn Shanks and grew up in Concord, where he graduated from Mt. Diablo High School in 1958. Marlan attended Diablo Valley College and San Francisco State University, earning degrees in Theater Arts and Speech. After graduation, he worked for the Ashland Shakespeare Festival and taught high school drama for a short time. Later he returned to CA to attend UC Davis, where he taught as a grad student and received his MFA in Directing in 1972. In 1973 he was hired to teach drama at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg and then later transferred to teach at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, from which he retired in 2003 and taught as an Emeritus Professor until 2008. His sparkling blue eyes, infectious grin and passion to share knowledge resulted in his being voted “Most Inspirational” by DVC Drama students.
For much of his life, Marlan was an avid scuba diver and member of the Alameda Divers. He and Deborah also loved to travel, as well as had interests in Native American arts and culture, family genealogy, music, and history. As a trailblazer, he was very proud to have been a charter member of the United Faculty Association and the Native American Indian Museum. He was also a member of the Community Congregational Church, UCC in Benicia where he sang in the choir and participated in theatrical productions. As a sailor, he was also very proud of having been a co-owner for a time of a 1926 John Alden 65’ ketch on which he lived for about 4 years.
He is survived by his wife of 21 years, Deborah Dahl Shanks, his brother-in-law, Edward Finneran and their two dogs, Jeeves and Bridget. He also leaves his daughter Juliet Hansen (husband Ken) of Dayton NV, and son Rob Shanks (wife Leslie) and two grandchildren James and Nicole of Gardnerville NV.
Marlan’s last three years were difficult, but filled with working on theater history with his former student Doug Dildine and finishing a huge project on Ancestry. He loved to do research and find out new information and dig up lost jewels of family history, even if occasionally somewhat shocking. His passion for learning and inspiring the student within each of us will be missed.
There will be a small Celtic Celebration of Life event on a Hornblower ship later this Fall. If you wish to make any contributions in his memory, they should go to Community Congregational Church, UCC, Benicia CA.
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