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Heritage Guide to The Geelong College






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SHANNON, Charles (1841-1922)

SHANNON, Charles (1841-1922)

Charles Shannon.

Charles Shannon.


Charles Shannon served on the College Council from 1908 to 1921 and was its foundation Chairman from 1908 to 1921. Shannon House is named after him. His portrait by George Colville and donated by C L Hirst hangs in the Senior School Dining Hall.

Charles Shannon married Emily Agnes Strachan (1847-1907), daughter of James Ford Strachan (1810-1875) and Lilias Cross Murray (1816-1896). They had eight children: Emily Strachan Shannon (1877-1891); Charles Hector Shannon (1877-1891); Archibald Norman Shannon (1878-1946); Herbert Strachan Shannon (1880-1955); Elliot Strachan Shannon (1882-1914); James Ford Strachan Shannon (1884-1938); Margaret Lillias Strachan Shannon (1886-1958) and Dorothy Strachan Shannon (1888-1973).

Charles, the son of Archibald Shannon (1785-1860)and Margaret Wilson (1801-1887) died in Geelong on 7 April 1922, aged 80 years. He was interred at Eastern Cemetery, Geelong on 8 April 1922. His wife Emily, son Eliot, and daughter Emily were also interred at the same site in the Eastern Cemetery on 14 May 1907.

Charles Shannon was among the ten 'Founders' of the Presbyterian Girls' School Geelong as a member of the committee established to investigate the establishment of a Presbyterian Girls' School in 1913. The Margaret Shannon Memorial Cup in use at the Presbyterial Girls' College (Morongo) from 1928 until its closure and at Geelong College from 2015 onwards was named after his grandaughter.

The School magazine, Pegasus in May 1922 published the following obituary:
'By the death of Mr. Charles Shannon the world lost one of its most beautiful characters, and the school a devoted friend. Among the last things he said was, 'I am always thinking of the College.' Since 1908 he presided over the destinies of the school as Chairman of its Council. He felt that a Public School with the right tone could do immeasurable service to the community, and was worthy of the most generous encouragement.

He knew a great deal about the boys, and they gave him a peculiar place in their affections. The letter of one boy who has recently left the school is worth quoting. After speaking of Mr. Shannon's special interest as an oarsman in the work of the crew, and the value of his criticisms, he adds, 'I remember too the last morning I saw him in St. George's. He came in just before the unveiling of the Memorial Tablet, and as I saw him I thought of many things, and felt very proud to be, for a time at least, the captain of the House that bore his name.'

It was his rare combination of qualities that won for him reverence and love from all who knew him. He was a strong man in physique, and in will power, and yet he had a gentleness almost caressing. There was an air of romance about him, and he kept to the end the spirit of adventure that had led him in strange craft over many seas, but along with that sailor spirit he had an inner restfulness that gave others a sense of peace. While he was abreast of much that was modern in thought he remained loyal to the faith of his childhood. He was continually throwing himself generously into new efforts for the welfare of others, but he never, for that reason, abandoned any good cause that he bad already helped.

No man could have been less conscious of his own influence. He never tried to preach. But his genuine goodness raised one's hopes for mankind. Without saying anything theological, he made you believe in the reality of God. His invincible youthfulness took away from many their dread of their own old age. Men who could never have been friends with each other were able to be friends of his. It was really the same man in each, the better man in each, that was Mr. Shannon's friend. The meaner man kept out of sight when he was present.

Some of us have known him all our lives, but we did not know him long enough to discover in him anything unworthy of a man and a gentleman. Now that he has gone we realise more clearly that in him we knew a great Christian.

The sympathy of the whole school - masters, old boys, and present boys - goes out to the members of Mr. Shannon's family in their great loss.'



Sources: Obituary Pegasus May 1922 pp 6-8.
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