April 1,1929-April1, 2019


Rural nursing, regional collaboration and mentoring are the words that come to mind when reflecting on the professional career of Anna Shannon.    When Dr. Shannon accepted the deanship at Montana State University (MSU) College of Nursing in 1975, she understood that the College of Nursing was to prepare nurses to meet the health care needs of citizens in the state.  In other words, the College of Nursing was to prepare nurses to practice rural nursing.  Anna achieved the stated mission despite extensive campus objection, and an autonomous college of nursing was established enabling its programs to become part of the campus mainstream. At the graduate level this took the form of a rural generalist, a population-based specialist prepared to:  work in a variety of settings, manage delivery of care in rural settings, and use ethnographic methods to identify unique needs of rural families and culturally acceptable means of meeting those needs.

Dr. Shannon was an active participant in the Western Council for Higher Education in Nursing (WCHEN/WIN) and a strong advocate for collaboration and cooperation across state lines.  Her contributions are considered essential to the success of the organization.  She played a leadership role in transitioning the organization from being a component of WICHE to being an independent, dues supported one. Not only did Anna contribute her time and talents to every aspect of the organization but she urged and enabled others to participate and assume leadership roles.

Many will remember Anna as a mentor.  In 1992, WIN established the Anna M Shannon award to recognize her impact in promoting and supporting the growth of others.   Her mentorship has been described as “non-obtrusive but always available, supportive regardless of whether her advice was followed.” She urged those in academia to consider it a privilege to serve students and their institution and not to use their position for self-aggrandizement.  At Dr. Shannon’s retirement dinner, a presenter mentioned all the pages in Anna’s CV that were missing because she would not take credit for so much of her work.  Her goal was to advance others and help them become recognized.

Anna’s work and leadership were infused not only by her passion and commitment to nursing and nursing education but also by her wisdom that was often passed on to others through her positive sense of humor. “Off duty” she could be found advocating for women’s athletics, especially Montana’s Bobcat basketball team and “her” National Park, Yellowstone.

Dr. Shannon, a native Montanan, earned a diploma at Missouri Baptist School of Nursing (1950), her BS degree from University of Missouri (1955), an MS degree from Washington University in St. Louis (1957), and a DNS from University of California San Francisco (1970). Among her many awards, Dr. Shannon was a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, recipient of the UCSF Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Missouri-Columbia Citation of Merit, and the Montana State University Blue and Gold Award for Extraordinary Women.

Prepared by, Carol A. Lindeman, PhD, and Barbara C. Gaines, EdD