Josephine (Jo) Shannon of Woodstock, Ga., went on to be with the Lord on Sept. 28, 2023,
surrounded by family and friends. She leaves a lasting legacy of love and generosity for her family and any stray animal that wandered across her path.
Jo was the daughter of Italian immigrants, William and Margaret (LoBrutto) Palumbo, who raised Jo and her sister, Mary, on Manhattan’s lower east side, in the era before it became one of the toniest addresses in the world. Though Josephine moved from New York City in 1953, she never truly left it behind, maintaining her unique vocal nuances and loving devotion to anything featuring New York in its title, from bagels, cheesecake, and pizza, to the NFL’s Giants. In truth, if a company marketed any product as authentic New York – be it laundry detergent, light bulbs or cat litter – she likely would have been a faithful customer.
Jo married Thomas Hannigan, who served in the Pacific with the Marines in World War II, in 1947 and the two opened a small grocery in Manhattan. After giving birth to Bruce, in 1949, and Maureen in 1950, they moved to Wyckoff, N.J., and opened a luncheonette/soda fountain, which eventually became a neighborhood institution featuring newspapers, cigarettes, candy and ice cream sodas. Their third child, Glenn, was born in 1958.
Though Jo could never fully explain her decision in the decades that followed, she divorced Tom in 1967 after 19 years of marriage. That same year she married Richard (Dick) Shannon of Suffern, N.Y. In 1968, Jo and family moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. After many years of working as a server at various restaurants in the area, Jo and Dick purchased a quadplex in Hollywood, Fla., where Jo kept busy maintaining the property and managing tenants. She also faithfully fostered an ever-expanding bevy of stray cats – and an occasional raccoon or two – often paying to have felines neutered or spayed.
Jo became active in the Catholic Church and sang in the choir at St. Jerome’s in Fort Lauderdale. She moved to Woodstock, Ga., in 2013 to be near her two sons (Maureen passed away in 2010 at age 60) shortly after Dick died. Jo became a member of St. Michael’s the Archangel Catholic Church in Woodstock and was also a regular attendee at Ebenezer Methodist Church in Roswell, Ga., where her son, Glenn, serves as pastor. At Ebenezer, where Jo enjoyed being doted on by a loving congregation, she took great pleasure in loudly vocalizing the word “catholic” each Sunday while reciting the Apostles Creed.
Until the end of her life, Jo remained devoted to her family, her church, the Catholic TV network, and to various culinary treats (bagels, BBQ ribs, honeybuns, meatballs, ham, cheesecake, etc.) sold on QVC. “But they made it sound so good!” was her standard reply whenever someone pointed out the disappointing flavor, texture and price of a previously frozen piece of cheesecake.
Jo was as hard-headed as she was soft-hearted, refusing to give up her gardening, house cleaning, or love of stray animals long after it became a physical challenge. For fifty years she promised her doctors that she would begin drinking more water and for fifty years she didn’t.
Though Jo was ever frustrated by her inability to sing first soprano like her sister, Mary (who sang with the choir of New York’s famous St. Partick’s Cathedral) or master the recipe for her mother’s Italian meatballs and sauce, she did attain life’s greater high notes with her generosity and unfailing love. She never forgot a birthday or anniversary and, even into her 90s, always including a generous check while skimping by on a fixed income. She complained loudly every time she was unable to pick up a check at a restaurant.
Jo is survived by sons Bruce (Gloria) Hannigan, Glenn (Candi) Hannigan, son-in-law Michael Knoll, grandchildren (Brian, Christine, Keith, Scott, Juan, Julie, Drew, Rebecca) and two great-grandchildren (Luca and Emilia).
Services will be held at Canton Funeral Home and Cemetery, 10655 E Cherokee Dr, Canton, GA 30115: visitation 5-7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, and memorial service at noon Saturday, Oct. 14. Donations in Jo’s memory can be made to St. Vincent De Paul Society at St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church in Woodstock. https://saintmichaelcc.org/saint-vincent-de-paul-society