Who Departed for a NEW Life
January 1, 2004

These are a few pictures of Don and his wife Mary
taken at the Grand Family Reunion
in Lunenburg Nova Scotia July 10-14, 2003.


Mary and Don

Family Tables
photo - Lana Veinotte

Don Shankle also represented the Beck, Lohnes and Wilkie Families

Family Tables
photo - Lana Veinotte

Don explaining to Laurie how the HUNTER family came to Lunenburg County

Family Tables
photo - Laurie Hunter

She: "Are we cousins?"
He: "Probably, and here is how."

Family Tables
photo - Clarke Johnson

The following memorial to Don, was published in the
Lunenburg Progress Enterprise / Bridgewater Bulletin ,
the week of January 28, 2004
and is reprinted with their permission.

Lunenburg County genealogist dies in California


OCEANSIDE, CA. — A prominent amateur genealogist who specialized in information pertaining to Lunenburg County ancestries has died at age 75.

Don Shankle was well known for the wealth of information he had collected and shared over the past quarter century concerning the history of Lunenburg area families. According to his wife, Mary, he was diagnosed with an acute form of leukemia in mid-December and died peacefully at the couple’s California home surrounded by family on New Year’s Day.

Born in Boston, Mr. Shankle was a career military man who served on active duty in the United States Army in the Second World War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War before retiring to California.

It was in the 1970s after Mrs. Shankle took a class in genealogy that Mr. Shankle’s interest in his roots took hold and he began researching both his and his wife’s ancestry. “When he started, we were writing things all down on paper,” Mrs. Shankle recalled. “Then our son gave him an old computer.”

That bit of technology led to the couple opening and administering their own genealogical web site called “Down East,” which shares historical information on families from Lunenburg County as well as Kings County, Newfoundland and families of Acadian descent.

Interest in those specific areas stemmed from the couple’s own personal bloodlines. Mr. Shankle’s father was born in LaHave while his mother hailed from Carbonnear, Newfoundland. Mrs. Shankle’s Acadian connection was through her mother, a native of L’Ardoise, while King’s County is tied in through her paternal grandfather who came from Aylesford.

Over the years the Shankles made at least a half dozen trips to Lunenburg in order to enable Mr. Shankle to further research his ancestry.

Their final trip together came last July when they spent eight days participating in the Grand Family Reunion which was organized as part of the town’s 250th anniversary celebration.

Upon hearing of his death, members of Lunen-Links, an on-line group of amateur genealogists, many of whom had been assisted by Mr. Shankle in tracing their own historical roots, issued a stream of condolences. One of those who fondly remembered him was Chris Young of Guelph, Ontario, who was chairman of last summer’s reunion.

Contacted via e-mail, Mr. Young said he first encountered Mr. Shankle about eight years ago through the South Shore Genealogical Society’s mailing list.

Both had a mutual interest in the Crouse family, and it became immediately obvious to the two men that they were using the same computer program to record data. “It also became apparent that he had a large data set of over 10,000 names. My data set at the time was about 4,000 names,” Mr. Young explained. “So I phoned him in California to chat and to see if he would be willing to swap data sets.”

Mr. Shankle readily agreed, displaying a trait which Mr. Young said was “characteristic of his continuing willingness to share what he knew with anybody else who was interested.”

Over the years, Mr. Shankle compiled a list of over 50,000 birth, marriage and death records which he not only displayed on his web site, but also stored on CD. While in Lunenburg last summer for the reunion, Mr. Shankle sold copies of the disc, donating all proceeds to the South Shore Genealogical Society. “

He was definitely one of the pillars of Lunenburg Genealogical research and his wise counsel will be greatly missed,” Mr. Young wrote.

Mrs. Shankle said before his death, her husband was interested in finding an individual who possessed the same love of genealogy as he did to succeed him in handling the operation of the “Down East” web site.

“He really tried to get someone who would want to take over this work for him. He wanted to keep the web site going,” she explained. “I guess it will just go on like it is, but it probably needs corrections, too.”

The web site can be found at Down East and anyone interested in assisting with its operation may contact Mrs. Shankle at

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