Saturday, September 23, 2017

94 Years Remembered in 94 Days-Post 78 (Article when my mom ended her tenure on City Council)

From the Douglas Dispatch 
Sunday, June 23, 1996
By James F Crane

A Life of Accomplishment
Margaret Shannon after retirement

She is so small that is is easy to overlook her in a crowd.   But start listing Margaret Shannon's accomplishments and her contributions to her native Douglas, and her stature exceeds that of most citizens.

Among other things, Margaret Shannon

*Was the first female department head at Phelps Dodge, heading up the company's Hardware Jobbing Division prior to her retirement in 1982

*Represented Ward 5 on the City Council for 12 years.

*Chaired the city's Finance Committee for 12 years.

*Spent seven years on the board of St. Vincent de Paul

*Is the president-elect of the Cochise County Fair Association, of which she has been a member for 10 years.

The early years

The fifth of seven children, Margaret Scott Shannon was in the first first-grade class at Loretto Academy in 1924.

"Oh, I enjoyed it."  she said.  "And I got a good education there."

Her father, a railroad conductor known for his prodigious memory, was ready to take his family to Texas so his children could attend a Catholic School. "But then Loretto opened" she said.  "It was a very, very good school.  There were music and plays and debates.   And students got all of the classroom attention that they needed."

"They were double classes, too."  she said, with two grades put together in one classroom.   While it sounds odd today, having third and fourth graders in the same room allowed a student to more readily find his or her own level.

And education didn't stop at Loretto's door.  Her dad made the children memorize a poem to recite each Friday.  "And all of the states and their capitols." Shannon said.    "We had to learn those, too.   He was a strong believer in memorizing.

After graduating from Loretto, she attended Gregg's Business College.   When the young Margaret walked out of that institution, she was able to walk into a job as a clerk at the Arizona Tax Commission.

However, she soon moved on to a better job as a case worker at the Industrial Commission.   "It was like the workman's compensation of today," she said.  "We had to deal with the claims of injured workers."

The Phelps Dodge Years

In 1950, Shannon returned to Douglas and went to work for Phelps Dodge as an invoice clerk.  "Phelps Dodge was a fine employer."  she said.   "They were very good to me."  Apparently she was very good for Phelps Dodge, as well, because from invoice clerk she rose to head the Hardware Jobbing Division at the big warehouse down on 9th Street, the first female head in the Phelps Dodge operations.

In addition to being responsible for keeping on hand everything everything Phelps Dodge needed for its Arizona operations, she also had to keep the hardware goods local contractors needed, because the jobbing division was a wholesale outlet.

"By hardware, I mean ten inch pipes, steel I beams, H beams, roofing paper and things like that," she said.

To give you an idea of the size of the "hardware" she's talking about, that dinky on display in the lot on 11th Street came out of that warehouse.  "That railroad engine was used to move the steel beams in the warehouse." she said.

Did her male cohorts give her a hard time? "No." she said.  "Never.  The men were just wonderful.  I had no problems with them at all."

After working for Phelps Dodge for a total of 35 years, Shannon retired in 1982.   She had worked in the Phelps Dodge mercantile during high school, time that counted toward her seniority.

"And then I woke up one morning and discovered that the city had moved me into Ward 5 from Ward 6." she said.  And that made me mad," she said.   I had lived in Ward 6 all of my life."  She didn't like being redistricted out of a life-long affiliation.

"So I went down and took out a petition," she said.  And she ran for City Council.   And she not only won, "But I won big, too," she said.

That spur of the moment decision to get involved led to 12 years on the Douglas City Council.

"On any issue of importance, I always surveyed the ward." she said.  Sometimes she would call as many as 200 of her constituents in order to get a sense of how they felt about an issue.

"I always voted what the ward wanted," she said.  

"I think that is always fair." 

What was her most important important accomplishment while on the council?   "We kept the city in the black through the real rough times."

Shannon is quick to praise both former mayor Elizabeth Ames and what she called the "bright people at City Hall."

"We have some excellent department heads," she said.

The former mayor, the city council, and the people of City Hall, working together, helped lay the groundwork for some of the good things that are happening in Douglas today, she said, like the opening of the Unique Molded Products plant.

"The city worked hard to get it," she said.  "Industrial development is important.   Unemployment is a big problem."

And what of the future?   For the city where she was born and raised, where she has spent most of her life, and where she helped guide for 12 years, she is optimistic.

"There's a big market for tourism,' she said.  "I'd like to see a one-night-in Mexico-one-night in Douglas kind of package put together.  What an experience for tourists that would be!"

And she sees Douglas as being right now "in a position to move.  It's a great town, and undiscovered town."

Personally her plans are to continue on the board of St. Vincent de Paul and to continue to support St. Luke's Church.  She has just taken over as president of the County Fair Association, and she plays bridge twice a week.

"But I really don't feel all that busy." she said.   

I would never have dreamed that I would "follow in her footsteps" when I retired and run for the Governing Board in Gilbert.   Don't know if i will make it 79--who knows.   What a great role model I had!!! 


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