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 Andrea Calabrese

Prof. Kelly,

I sent you my condolences via mail and I think you'll get them soon. I am really sad for what happened, and I feel really close to you all. I was reading what Ginger wrote on the web about your daughter Shona, and I could hear Ginger talking about the stories of your daughter's childhood at your house during the Thanksgiving dinner, I could even hear the stories that you and your wife told me about her childhood and her way of being an independent person and a critical thinker.

I met your family few times, but I really felt as one of your group and it's with extreme sorrow that I am writing this e-mail. Yesterday, I was in Vicenza and while I was sitting there at Isolgomma, I couldn’t stop thinking at the time when we were there together and about the tragedy that has happened to your family.

The moments of joy and peace seem really far, but I am sure you'll have a lot of people supporting you in this sad circumstance.

Please let me know if I can be of any help. I am so sorry I didn't know it before, otherwise I would have come to Florence to give you my condolences.

A big hug to you all,



From Pavlina Tcherneva

Memory of Shona

It was 1996. Having just completed my junior year in college, I took a summer internship that would eventually change my own personal and professional life in important ways, take me to the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and lay the grounds for a cherished friendship with the Wray family.

Pavlina and the Wrays in NY, 2006The first time I met both Shona and Randy was during that same 1996 internship at an economics conference.  As a college student I had read Randy’s book and articles and was very surprised when I met him. He was a young economist with an even younger wife (for some reason I imagined all respected economists to be aging and with thick reading glasses).  Shona was lovely—beautiful, charming, with that unforgettable smile everyone talks about, and also very VERY pregnant.  With one baby in the stroller (Shane) and another one on the way, she was radiant. I vividly remember her wearing a blue dress with white polka dots and a white head band.  I was immediately impressed during our first introduction when I watched her speak to Shane in Italian. Then Alina was born and over the years, I marveled at this beautiful family and the sweet, fun, and smart children they raised.

Alina, Pavlina, and Shona, Florence 2011Over the last few months, my husband and I got to see the Wrays in Florence and ring in the New Year together at our NY home.  Always generous and thoughtful, Shona brought lentils to the party, which is apparently an old Italian tradition that brings health and prosperity during the new year to those who share in it. How very sad and unfair it is that she did not live long enough to enjoy her own health and prosperity. And though her life was cut short, it was by all indications a rich one. And we are all richer for knowing her—as she left an indelible mark on every person who came in contact with her.  There are far too many memories to recount but my family and I grew to love the Wrays and will remember Shona for her charisma, intelligence, kindness, and generosity.  As for me, she will always be that radiant and charming pregnant young woman in the blue polka dot dress from the first time I met her 16 years ago.


From Kurt Christensen

Remembering Dr. Kelly Wray

I attended Prof. Kelly Wray's How-to-History II course in the Spring 2009 semester.  At the time I was an economics graduate student attempting to change his co-discipline to history, I appreciated her guidance and support through the process.  Even after I finished her course, she was always receptive and willing to chat about my progress.  

Two things stick out in my mind when I recall my time in her course.  Once Gianluca Rossi and I were having a discussion about corporate governance, I don't recall the specific details, but Dr. Kelly Wray's ironic response always stuck with me: "I will never understand how you economists think."  

On another occasion, Dr. Kelly Wray had given us a syllabus assignment (in my estimation the highlight of the course).  Given our druthers, we were to create a history course that we would love to teach.  I developed an advanced labor history course on corporate benefits.  This assignment was one of the key factors when I developed my dissertation topic.     

She will be missed.  I offer my condolences to Randy Wray and his family.


From Monica Green

Memories of Shona

Dear Maggi (if I may),

I communicated with the Chair of History at UMKC shortly after Shona's death and sent him a copy of the letter of support I wrote for Shona the year before last when she was applying for the I Tatti scholarship.  

I could go on for pages about how wonderful and pathbreaking Shona's scholarship was (and augured to be in the future).  Indeed, if you've seen that letter, I in fact *have* been known to go on for pages about her work.

But what has elicited this outpouring of remembrance from others was the same thing that most struck me about Shona:  her generosity and curiosity, her frankness and her boldness, her sense of fun and her sense of the seriousness of history and the importance of "getting it right."

One anecdote from 2005:  I was working on a chapter of my book and it dawned on me that there might have been a significant change in medical practitioners' therapeutic practices because of the plague.  So I wrote to Shona asking her if anything was mentioned in the wills from the time of the Black Death that she was working on.  I closed my query, "If this is a crazy question, just say so."  

Well, sure enough, Shona had both the "archival goods" and the generosity to offer a rich answer my question:  "I can't think of any reason why a 14th-century testament would include such explicit and precise medical info [as you're inquiring about]. I certainly have never seen anything like it. No testament even mentions the plague! However, I don't think your question is crazy at all, because it got me wondering how you could find such info."  And so it went.  

My first thought when I heard of Shona's passing was of her children.  I have not met them but I heard of them whenever Shona and I talked.  I want them to know how truly wonderful their mother was, and that so much of her wonderfulness was captured in her humility, her pride in her work, and her joy in life.  She has given you an amazing inheritance.

Monica Green
Professor of History
Arizona State University


From Lino Pertile and Anna Bensted

A tribute to Shona from Lino Pertile and Anna Bensted

Shona, like other Fellows at I Tatti, was chosen to come to the Harvard Center because of her  remarkable academic achievements, and because of her sure grasp of what she could accomplish with a year here at the Villa.  From the moment she arrived, Shona immediately set to work on her research making the very most of her Fellowship.

But during her time here Shona showed herself to possess another remarkable set of qualities beyond the scholarly – qualities that are as important in an I Tatti Fellow as the ability to bring to completion any academic project. Bernard Berenson wanted this to be a place of peace and tranquility, a place where scholars could exchange ideas and share the excitement of research and intellectual discovery. This is what Shona showed herself ready to do every day here. At the lunch table we could hear how she revelled in connections made with all scholars from both her own and other disciplines. But there was something else we heard from her at the table: her occasional, lovely bursts of laughter that made all conversations with her, scholarly and not, a pleasure for everyone. She was in every way a wonderful I Tatti Fellow.

One day at lunch, after she had attended one of the cooking lessons that occasionally take place in the I Tatti kitchen, she said to Anna how very much she had enjoyed the lesson, and she went on to suggest other such sessions. “Let’s go out with Margrit one afternoon – she said - and learn more about the I Tatti flowers and gardens.” Anna’s last email exchange with Shona was about planning such a visit through the garden in full spring. Shona explained that she wanted to do this because, “after all, we are not just academics here, but fully rounded human beings.” That is indeed what Shona was, a superb scholar and a caring, curious, generous, fully rounded human being. 

We deeply mourn her loss but we celebrate her life and cherish her memory.

On Thursday 14 June 2012  Early Music at I Tatti , a concert in the Limonaia of the Villa, will be dedicated to the memory of Shona, esteemed scholar and beloved colleague.

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