Activist community

UMKC leader, black community activist Reaner Shannon, dies


Reaner Shannon, former associate dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has died.

Shannon Family

Editor’s Note: This feature is part of a weekly The Star focus intended to highlight and remember the lives of deceased Black Kansas citizens.

Reaner Shannon, educator, author and philanthropist, was laid to rest on Thursday. The service was filled not only with family and friends, but also with the many people whose lives have been touched by the work of this former UMKC Associate Dean.

For people who knew her, Shannon was the epitome of grace and dignity in any situation.

“She was such a lovely woman and so involved in UMKC medical school and in the community,” said Martha Cockerell, executive director of the Raytown Educational Foundation. Cockerell has served alongside Shannon on the foundation’s board since 1999 and will always be remembered for the presence and respect Shannon commanded. “She was a soft-spoken but strategic thinker, and when she spoke, people listened to what she had to say.”

Shannon, a Kansas City native and graduate of Lincoln High School in 1955, died July 13 at age 85 due to health complications.

Shannon’s life has been decorated with honours, nominations and awards demonstrating her lifelong commitment to service within her community. She was appointed to the Raytown Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports schools there. Additionally, she served on the board of the Black Health Care Coalition and the Edgar Snow Foundation. Her love of education was also largely directed to the University of Missouri-Kansas City Medical School, where she earned her doctorate and chaired the Minority Recruitment and Retention Board, as well as the Board of diversity of the school until his retirement in 2008. .

Reaner Shannon with her husband of 62 years, Henry Shannon Shannon Family

She began her career as a medical technologist at Kansas City General Hospital and eventually became an associate professor at UMKC’s School of Medical Technology and later associate dean.

Colleague and close friend Sally Frederick, who has known Shannon since the 1970s, will always remember the drive Shannon showed to help the next generation of black doctors.

“The passion I saw in her was always for education. She worked very hard to get her own education. She paid for her education and she knew the value of education,” says Frederick, who was also a trustee of the Raytown Foundation.However, even after years of friendship, Frederick was unaware until Shannon’s death of the extent of his work in the many facets of the black community.

“She was so humble. I was completely overwhelmed by all the awards, all the articles she had published, her education and the roles she played in the hospital. She was a passionate but reserved and dignified woman,” she says.

While many mourn the loss of a pillar of the black medical and educational community, Frederick feels the loss of one of his oldest friends.

“I will miss her as a friend and mentor. I will miss her humble presence at our board meetings. She was a good listener and conversationalist who always seemed to want to hear your story.

For her daughter Pamela Shannon, 59, the sudden loss is still being processed.

“We are all still recovering from the shock. We hang in there. I will miss the friendship the most. I not only lost my mother, I lost my best friend. We spoke every day and sometimes two or three times a day. But his legacy and his example live on in me,” she says. She moved from KC to Dallas 22 years ago and returned to plan her mother’s funeral. There she was able to see another side of the life of the woman she loved and respected so much.

“It was a great performance. It was a celebration of life highlighting the accomplishments and accomplishments she had made around Kansas City. The people she touched and impacted will definitely have a “pay it forward” perspective. This need to pass on the help, advice and wisdom she gave them,” she says.

Her daughter finds comfort in the legacy Shannon left behind and the impact she has had on the lives of so many black healthcare professionals in Kansas City. For decades, Shannon has consistently worked to raise awareness of health disparities for people of color. Her daughter says she will also continue to carry on her mother’s work in her own way and fight for a better quality of life in the black community.

“I told someone from the department that my mom left her fingerprints all over Kansas City. They told me she absolutely did, but she also left a few fist prints because she had to fight for so many within black health care and her community.

In addition to her daughter, Shannon is survived by her husband, Henry Shannon; siblings Millie Grace Morris, Christine Pouncil, Macy Miller, Gladys Burtin, Ester Jackson and Billie Gunnels; as well as a host of cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.

Other Memories

Ivery Jean Qualls, educator, died July 5. She was 71 years old. Qualls family

Ivery Jean Qualls

Ivery Jean Qualls, educator, died July 5. She was 71 years old.

Qualls was born on December 15, 1950, to Heressie Singleton and Ivery L. Qualls in Minden, Louisiana. Known to those around him as “Berry” or “Jean”, Qualls was remembered by family and friends as a kind, generous and warm person. She would spend much of her youth being involved in the church and singing in the choir, an aspect that would follow her into adulthood with her studies in theology.

She had a passion for football, basketball and home plate shooting. She was one of the first black women to enroll at Minden High School in the fall of 1966, helping with the school’s integration. She would graduate from high school in 1968. Growing up in the South during the civil rights movement led her to activism throughout her life. Qualls would participate in numerous marches, demonstrations and civil rights events during his youth in his community.

She moved to Kansas City in 1978. In addition to her own children, Qualls would act as an adoptive parent and surrogate mother for many children who came to see her. According to those close to her, she has always welcomed people into her home and into her heart.

Qualls would go on to be an active member of Miracle Temple Christian Center for over 50 years. In addition to her work in the church choir, she also founded the ministry youth choir and held positions as an announcer and Sunday school teacher.

She earned an associate’s degree in biblical studies in 2002 before earning bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in Christian education.

She is survived by children LaTonnya Qualls-Martin, Juanomanski Qualls, Lashonda Qualls and Donnell Johnson; two sisters, Fannie Gaskins and Annie-Faye Thomas; two brothers, Larry Singleton and Ivery Joe Qualls; and a host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

Brenda Davis died on July 11 at the age of 54. Davis family

Brenda Davis

Brenda Davis, mother and Marriott manager, died July 11 at the age of 54.

Davis was born in Kansas City on May 24, 1968 to Kelly Roy Richard Sr. and Willie Mae Wynn-Bozeman. After graduating from Southeast High School in 1986, she studied criminal justice at Penn Valley Community College for two years. Davis would begin a career working at a juvenile detention center helping troubled youths in the KC subway.

She moved to Mabelvale, Arkansas for 10 years and moved back to Kansas City in 2010 and started her career at Marriott.

Her friends will remember her as an active person who loved sports, fishing, singing, dancing and travelling. Above all, Davis enjoyed being with his family and loved ones.

Davis is survived by her daughters, Janita Ammons and Brittany Davis; siblings Doris Abdallah, Sharon Bozeman-Brown, Thomas Bozeman, Sonita Stacker, Kelly Richard Jr., Jefferey Richard; sister-in-law Juanita Bozeman; 10 grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews; partner Robert Principal Jr.; and many lifelong friends.

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JM Banks is The Star’s culture and identity reporter. He grew up in the Kansas City area and has worked in various community media such as The Pitch KC and Urban Alchemy Podcast.