Welcome to the memorial page for

Michael John Shanks

May 20, 1939 ~ November 9, 2017 (age 78)

Michael John Shanks

May 20, 1939 – November 9, 2017


Following a short but valiant battle with cancer, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend passed from this life surrounded by family and friends.  Mike was born to Louis and Hazel Maloney Shanks in Spokane and lived essentially his entire life in the same home on East Sharp.  A lifetime parishioner of St. Aloysius, Mike attended St. Al’s Grade School, Gonzaga Preparatory School and, after stints at several well-known institutions of higher education, he ultimately graduated from Seattle University and later obtained his teaching certification from Gonzaga University.


In 1969, Mike married Joan DeCaro Shanks and together they raised three children Matthew, Mia and Emily.  His wife, children and his eight grandchildren were incredible blessings to him for which he was extraordinarily thankful.  After the passing of his parents at an early age, Mike was blessed to be informally adopted by Pete and Liz Higgins, the parents of his best friend Denny.  A lifetime of Higgins-Shanks family experiences soon followed and the relationship endures to this day.  


In spite of his Irish heritage, Mike was also embraced by Joan’s parents Silvio and Vera DeCaro and her siblings Georgi, Rita and Gian and their spouses Jerry Valley, Terry Anderson and Trish DeCaro.  In particular, Vera’s ever present support and love was a constant source of strength for Mike, as were her Sunday pasta and meatball dinners.


Mike began his teaching career in Newport, Washington where he taught and coached for four years.  From Newport, he moved to John Shaw Junior High School, in Spokane, where he taught for thirty-one years before retiring in 1996.  An incredibly hard and dedicated worker, Mike also developed a lawn care business, with his son and “business partner” Matt, and performed other summer work over the years supplementing his teaching salary in order to send his children to Gonzaga Prep and to college.


His sincere kindness and generosity were fundamental to the numerous friendships sustained throughout his life.  He was always there to help friends and strangers alike, willingly volunteering his time and contributing resources to numerous community causes.  He eagerly discussed politics, Notre Dame football, Gonzaga basketball, Gonzaga Prep football and the Gonzaga neighborhood with anyone who would listen and he thoroughly loved his family home on East Sharp and the Gonzaga neighborhood.  His friendships with families such as the Stocktons, Thompsons, Lucases, Caferros, Raneys and Deckers and his relationships with his “Rat Pack” pals from the Gonzaga Prep class of ‘58 including Denny Higgins, Pat Shine, Dan Murphy, Jeff Colliton and Jerry Geraghty were genuine and enduring. 


Aside from his home and tending to his yard and tomatoes, Mike absolutely enjoyed time spent with family.  He grew up skiing at Mt. Spokane and loved ski adventures with his siblings, kids, nieces, nephews and grandkids throughout his life.  Trips to Disneyland or NYC in the family station wagon, vacations to Hawaii or spending time at Priest Lake were all meaningful and treasured experiences for Mike. 


Mike valued what matters most in life, his faith, family and friendships.  He loved his life.  He will be missed by many.


Mike is survived by his wife Joan, his son Matthew Shanks (Melanie) and his two daughters Mia Shanks Davidson (Darin) and Emily Shanks Scelfo (Scott).  He is also survived by his eight grandchildren Michael Davidson, Mia Scelfo, Maggie Davidson, Max Scelfo, Joey Davidson, Kate Scelfo, Molly Davidson and Liam Shanks.  In addition, Mike is survived by his sister Patricia Shanks and his brother William “Bill” Shanks as well as Joan’s siblings and their spouses Georgi and Jerry Valley, Rita and Terry Anderson and Gian and Trish DeCaro together with numerous nieces and nephews who all loved and respected Mike.


Mike would sincerely appreciate any memorial contributions in his name made to Gonzaga Prep’s “Fair Share” program (1224 E. Euclid, Spokane, WA  99207), the House of Charity (Catholic Charities of Spokane, 12 E. 5th Ave., Spokane, WA  99202) or the U-District Foundation (730 N. Hamilton, Spokane, WA 99202).

Rosary will be prayed on Thursday, November 16th at 7pm at the Gonzaga Prep Chapel.

A Memorial Mass will be celebrated Friday, November 17, 2017 at 2:30pm at St. Aloysius Church with a reception following at the Gonzaga Prep Student Center.





 Service Information

November 16, 2017

7:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Gonzaga Prep Chapel
1224 E. Euclid Ave.
Spokane, WA 99207

Funeral Mass
November 17, 2017

2:30 PM to 4:00 PM
St. Aloysius Catholic Church
330 E Boone Ave
Spokane, WA 99202

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