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Edward Shaughnessy Photo submitted

Millbrook remembers: Edward Shaughnessy devoted his life of service to others

MILLBROOK — After spending a lifetime of intellectual pursuits and service to others, Edward Shaughnessy died on Saturday, April 2, following a 10-month battle with cancer.

He passed peacefully at home at the age of 87, with Mary Ann Keelan, his wife of more than 52 years, by his side, along with other family members. Shaughnessy spent the latter part of his life in Millbrook, the community that he had come to love and dedicate much of his time to.

Mary Ann spoke with The Millerton News to remember her beloved husband in the days after his death, to reflect on his remarkable life.

Born in Brooklyn in 1934, Shaughnessy graduated from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He later graduated from Fordham University, earning a Master of Arts. Following that, he attended Manhattan College where he earned a Masters Degree in Theology. He also earned a Fullbright Fellowship to Norway, and a Ph.D. from the New School of Social Research.

During the 1950s and ‘60s he taught in Harlem, and then moved across the globe to Kenya to help establish a health dispensary for a local African tribe in Kikuyu. Always academic, he also taught college courses to future elementary school teachers who were a part of the Nyeri  tribe. He became fluent in both Swahili and the Kikuyu languages.

During his career, Shaughnessy held consulting positions with the U.N. in Italy and the Netherlands; he taught at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC, served as chairman of the department there, and was awarded the Bramshill Faculty Exchange to England.   

He maintained a joint appointment at the Graduate Center of CUNY, where he was a professor emeritus. He lectured at the graduate public administration program at Marist College.

Both a writer and a speaker, Shaughnessy concentrated on criminal justice reform. He founded Education and Justice Services, a consulting company that served law and education entities.

Locally in Millbrook, Shaughnessy was always lending a hand, even earning the nickname “Mr. Volunteer.”

He served as a board member and first lieutenant for the Millbrook fire department and Rescue Squad; as chairman of the Church Alliance Building Committee; as president of the Dutchess County Historical Society; and as acting judge for the village of Millbrook.

He also stood in for Santa a number of times during the Christmas holidays in the village during June Kaufman’s theater performances at the Thorne Building. With a warm smile, a quick wit and a love of word play, he was beloved in the community.

Shaughnessy had a love for children, a love of writing and a love of illustrating books for his grandchildren, to whom he was devoted. He described them as “the gift of the grands.”

This multi-faceted, multi-talented man also fixed old clocks and designed stained-glass chess sets, painstakingly working on them, cutting and soldering the glass with precision.

His interest in genealogy led to him joining the Sons of Union Veterans when he discovered he had family members who had fought in the Union Army.

He had an almost magical ability to remember historical facts, and spent much time and energy on researching old archives in order to authenticate his 18th century Millbrook home.

Throughout his varied life, most of all Shaughnessy made an impression those he met. He proved how much this was true by the many people who showed up at his services on Thursday morning, April 28, at the Allen Funeral Home in Millbrook.

The beloved husband, father and grandfather was then laid to rest at the cemetery of St. Joseph-Immaculate Conception Church, also in the village.

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