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 Ruth Senturia

As a little kid, Shona loved all things British. Or so it seemed back then. Her favourite music: The Beatles.

Shona and Ruth: Woolsey St.We shared some very good years. Our three families lived just a couple houses apart—the Kellys, the Alexanders, and the Senturias. We three older girls—Shona, Leslye, and I—played and played. Our younger sisters Maggi, Megan, and Martha—played and played. Our parents parented us all and became friends in their own right. The day the Kellys moved away was a loss.

Back in those early years, Shona and I used to go to Sheila Keppel for pottery classes. At one point Shona decided an Egyptian Pharaoh was going to be her project with clay. Which was beyond me—young kids didn’t ordinarily take to ancient civilizations. Later in high school we shared four exceptional years of Latin classes with Mr Mulholland and Mrs Small. Shona’s love of modern dance was perhaps her antidote to all things old.

Shona knew what she liked. And there was always something that she was enthusiastic about. When we’d get together, sure enough, she’d be brimming with excitement about her latest new found passion. Shona never worried what anyone else thought. She had no need to impress. Or question herself. She was comfortable in her skin, and knew what made her happy. Early on she knew she wanted to be a professor. Academics were her love, but she was refreshingly unacademic in her enthusiasm for life beyond academia.

We kept in touch after high school, though only minimally since I wasn’t in the US much after that.. I visited her at UC Davis, and later passed through Denver enroute to India. I’d drop a line every so often, and she made sure I received a copy of her  annual letter.  These past couple years I tried to get to Red Hook and she tried to meet me in western NY—to no avail.

I first met Randy when Shona brought him to my Dad’s in Berkeley/Oakland. Randy was in my good books for figuring out that Shona was a good catch. I knew he was an economics professor in those years, but only of late have I come across his articles with Bill Black, and then come to appreciate that he’d studied under Hyman Minsky. (I was rather excited to stumble upon “Randall Wray’s” articles on the internet this past year, and was planning to write Shona about this.)

The quality in Shona that stood out for me over the years—even when she was a kid: she never could speak ill of anyone. When she didn’t like something, at most one might detect some frustration. But she could only get so far in expressing herself and then she’d stop, because she was simply unable to cross that line of actually criticizing a person or saying something bad of them. To this day I find this to be truly exceptional.

Over the years I’d hoped that my husband could meet her, and that I could meet her kids. And I became more determined that we should get together latest by next year when we’d turn 50.

Maggi, thank you for making this blog possible. My heart goes out to you, and Jim & Celia, and Randy and the kids.  In particular, I hope the kids will have had enough years with Shona to have inherited all that she wanted for them to be able to stand on their feet. And yes, Randy, you have big shoes to fill. To your credit.

Ruth Senturia


From George Dameron

I feel privileged to have known Shona as a colleague and as a friend.  As a scholar, she was outstanding.  As a person, she was ever cheerful, funny, unpretentious, and so very generous with others.  Our paths crossed primarily at conferences, and I always looked forward whenever I saw her at a meeting to catching up with her on her work and to sharing meals with her, along with our other colleagues.  One memory of Shona that stands out for me is seeing her really enjoyng herself on the dance floor at Kalamazoo after a panel-packed day several years ago..  This is how I remember her:  an excellent historian and  a wonderful person. I wish to extend my deepest sympathy to her family.


From Laura M. Giles

As a recently arrived fellow at I Tatti, I only knew Shona for a few weeks in April. Fleeting as our acquaintance was, Shona made an indelible impression upon me with her wit, smile, and generous spirt--as Filippo De Vivo so aptly put it, she was truly "solare" in her disposition.  As my heart goes out with sadness to her family, friends, and colleagues, I would also like to express my gratitude for the short but memorable interludes I spent with her: on the train to Venice, in the rain in Padova, in the cucina at I Tatti (where she seemed to document every second with great glee on her camera!), at pranzo and at the terrace of the Villino, where we fondly shared 1980s memories of Unix, disco music, and the Archivio di Stato at Bologna.


From Lois Huneycutt

Memories of Shona

I regret to say that I honestly didn't know Shona very well at all, but it was impossible not to like Shona, even with a rather cursory professional acquaintance.  I always looked forward to seeing her at the annual meetings of the Mid America Medieval Association, where she always had kind words for my graduate students, particularly those whose work touched on topics near and dear to her heart. We had children of similar ages, and there was always a little catching up to do about what our respective children had done to drive us just a little crazier since we last met. Even though we were always lighthearted about sharing anecdotes, Shona's deep love for her children and her enjoyment of motherhood always came through.

I was privileged to be a referee (I guess I can let that out now!) for the University of Missouri Research Board grant she applied to before making her final trip to Italy.  I was stunned by the scope, significance, and sophistication of the project.  I knew Shona was good, but I had no idea she was really that good -- that book would have made an academic star out of her.  The most extensive time I spent with Shona was when we ran into each other at the American Historical Association conference in San Diego; I think it was in January 2010.  Missouri was covered in a record amount of snow, and both of us were giddy about being in the land of oceans and palm trees and warmth!   Both of us were intent on seeing as much of the town as possible.  She talked me into doing a whale watching cruise that I'd been hesitant about.  I'm so glad I went; I'm so glad I got to see her outside of academia, even for a few hours.  I will miss her.


From Lynda Payne

Shona and I were hired the same year at UMKC. It was a relief to find someone as irreverent as I am in the history department, and given her sense of humour, it was no surprise to find out that she had family from the UK. I was lucky to go to a conference with her in Colorado and she took me on a tour of where she used to live. What a great tour guide she was. We both had an interest in the black death, me as a medical historian and Shona as a Italian mediaevalist. We had some good conversations on it and I learnt a lot from her about family history. Then there was her naughty laugh that others have mentioned -- she was a good mimic too. Miss you Shona for many reasons, Lynda

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