Mary K. Shallenberger was born on December 9, 1942, in Oklahoma City, OK to Katherine and Charles Connell. They moved to Council Bluffs, IA in 1944 when her father was transferred there at the request of his employer, The Associated Press (AP), where she attended kindergarten through 1st grade at Madison Ave. Elementary School. They moved to San Francisco, California, again due to her father’s employment in the summer of 1950. She first attended Edison Elementary and later Glen Park Elementary, before moving on to Denman Jr. High and then graduating from Balboa High School with honors. Mary completed her education at California State University, San Francisco (CSUSF) with a Bachelor’s degree in Geography in the spring of 1966. She worked part-time for an accountant doing office work and as a secretary at Trinity Methodist Church while attending the university.
Just before Mary graduated from CSUSF she was accepted by the Peace Corps. and was to report for orientation to serve overseas, but had already said “yes” to a proposal of marriage by her boyfriend, Gary Shallenberger. They were married at Trinity Methodist Church on Nov. 19, 1966 where they had met earlier that year.
She worked full time for a while at the Cost Plus World Market in the accounting department at Fisherman’s Warf. Later, she took a part time job with Pacific Shipper, a maritime shipping magazine. In 1970, she and Gary moved to Paradise following a transfer with PG&E. They lived in a rental on Oliver Rd. for 8 months before moving to Hazel Way in April 1971, where they lived for 47 years before the loss of their home due to the Camp Fire. She passed peacefully on April 4, 2020 in her new home in Chico, California.
While living on Hazel Way, a new life joined the couple in the form of their son, Kevin. He was one week shy of his fourth birthday when he came on the scene in August 1975. They celebrated his final adoption with hot fudge chocolate sundaes on Cinco de Mayo 1976 which became, and still is, a family tradition.
Mary had always been active in her church, teaching Sunday school at both Trinity and Paradise United Methodist Church. She also was active with the church’s Social Concern, Missions, and many of the church’s outreach groups, including their “Lunch With Us” program. She helped to establish a recycling program which was picked up by the town of Paradise, and to organize the Paradise Center for Tolerance and Nonviolence which later became the Paradise Ridge Center for Justice.
Mary loved animals, particularly dogs - the only time there had not a dog in her house is while she and Gary were living in a 3rd floor apartment in San Francisco – some of our neighbor’s dogs spent more time at our home than their own. Her favorite wild animal was the sea otter. She supported many animal care groups and was protective of our environment, donating annually to many recognized organizations. Mary volunteered for and supported many national and international groups, such as: Bread for the World, Amnesty International, Heifer International, American Cancer Society, Children’s Home Society, and, of course, many recognized animal protection groups. She was active in the Paradise Ridge Democratic Club, serving as its treasurer for many years.
Mary loved to sew, even making her own wedding gown, shirts for her husband and son, and costumes for her grandkids. Mary loved music, mostly the classics, Broadway musicals, a little country, and ballads.
She is survived by her husband of 53 years, Gary; son, Kevin; and his wife, Theresa, as well as her grandchildren, Alyssa Nypl; Ryan, Brea, and Josephine Shallenberger, and many nieces and nephews. All of her three younger brothers preceded her in death. Although short of stature, Mary stood tall.
Due the COVID-19 “social distancing” order, a celebration of life event for Mary will be delayed until the order is lifted - date, time and place to be announced. Memorial gifts would be welcomed by Trinity United Methodist Church, Chico; the American Cancer Society or The Butte County Humane Society.
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