Index of Posts: Slices of Shona's Life
Memories of Shona

Thank you so much for all your memories and thoughts. If you have something to post, or you have photos to post, you can get to me via the "Contact" page. - Maggi, Shona's sister.


From Bruce C. Brasington

I shall never forget meeting Shona at one of the earliest meetings of the Texas Medieval Association. Her work on Bologna was outstanding, its excellence rivaled only by her enthusiasm and willingness to share her research. She gladly sent me all sorts of materials to use in my Medieval and Ren/Ref. courses, and 20 years of students here have benefitted from her intelligence, hard work, and kindness. Unforgettable. And missed.


From Dr Edward Coleman

I was greatly saddened to hear of Shona's recent death. It had the pleasure of meeting and talking with her at various medieval gatherings over the years (Kalamazoo, Leeds, Sararsota etc). She was an unfailingly companionable and lively presence: serious and erudite yet at the same time funny and irreverent. She will be very much missed.


From Carolyn North Strauss

Dearest Maggi, Celia and Jim,

We just learned of Shona's passing, and we are devastated with the news. Our hearts are with you all, and with Shona herself. We knew her mostly as a little girl - that tender, beautiful child whose face was sunshine. (I recall once saying to Celia how beautiful her girls were, and she replied, "Yes, they are, aren't they? No reason to be modest - they are truly beautiful.")

But I, Carolyn, had a connection with her much later on that perhaps none of you knows about. It was when I learned she had become a medievalist - which I, probably not known by all of you - once was also. So I invited her over when she was in town, and we spent a happy and excited afternoon talking medieval art, and Romanesque sculpture, and places in Europe and gossip of scholars. It was amazing to me to be having that conversation with someone I had known as a child! I mean, nobody in California (I thought) had any notion of medieval France! So we gabbed excitedly, and when she left I handed her a stack of my journals from the Centre d'Etudes Medievales, where I had studied in France. From her point of view, they were a treasure, I think, a rare find. From my point of view, I was passing them on into the hands of the next generation.

Herb and I wish you comfort and care.
With love and sweet memories -
Herb and Carolyn


From Paul Brian Thomas

I was Shona's graduate teaching assistant for World Civilizations during her very first semester at UMKC. It was also my first semester as a GTA and my second semester in graduate school. Even though we were both pretty green and trying to figure things out at UMKC, we had a great collaboration and the fruits of working with Shona still nourish me to this day. By never hesitating to ask me how I thought things were going in the class and seeking (and taking seriously) my input on various lessons and lesson plans, Shona modeled for me a collaborative approach to teaching that I still use to this day.

I was also a student of Shona's in various graduate seminars. I still have a fascination with the Black Death and her memorable lesson on how not to do research in history is a pedagogical technique I still use.

Granted, Shona's influence on this young historian was formative, but what I really miss is her easy smile. That smile was genuine and contagious.

All my best to Shona's family and friends.


From Doug Bowles

Some who may read this will know me as a member of the UMKC Economics faculty and a colleague of Randy and Shona’s. Those who do already know me will also know about my wife Saima, another beautiful young woman of around Shona’s age (and also our colleague, working for the UMKC Center for Economic Information). On November 1 of last year, Saima suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage.  She spent two months fighting for her life in the ICU’s of St. Luke’s and KU Med Center hospitals here in Kansas City, then another two months of intensive inpatient rehab, followed by two more months in a day-long outpatient program.  Today she’s living at home, carrying out an ongoing self-managed therapy program, and anticipating returning to work by November of this year.  She’s looking forward to what amounts to a substantially complete recovery.

    Shona, tragically, was not so lucky.  And now, I find myself unable to emotionally separate these two events. The best way I can think to describe it for you is that Shona’s loss and Saima’s survival feel to me like two sides of the same coin.  You give it a toss, and you take your chances.  Your call . . . heads, or tails?

    Randy and I have always enjoyed a cordial professional relationship, and I’ve always had great admiration and appreciation for his work.  During their earlier years at UMKC, through Randy, I knew Shona in a casual social context.  Three or four years ago, though, she went out of her way to provide me with invaluable strategic support in a critical administrative battle over the academic doctoral program I direct.  Without her support, it’s a battle we could well have lost.  I and many others both in the Economics Department and in the university at-large, faculty and students alike, will always be grateful to her for the heroic service she rendered us at that time.  The intervening years, as is their wont, have flown by since then, and I didn’t have the chance see so much of Shona after that.  And now, of course, I wish I had.

    I haven’t seen or spoken with Randy since this happened.  But now, strange though it may seem, I feel much closer to him than I ever did before.  I hope when he gets back to Kansas City we can find some time to sit down together and share a bottle of wine.  I know it will do us both some good.

    Rest in peace, Shona Kelly Wray.