Donald Raymond Shackelford

 United States

  • Date Of Birth: November 1, 1949
  • Date Of Death: June 17, 2019
  • Resting Place: Edmond
  • City: Jacksonville
  • State: Texas

Donald R. Shackelford, a beloved member of the Anchorage, Alaska, community for 57 years, passed away at his home on June 17, 2019. He was 69 years old. He had battled rheumatoid arthritis since the age of 30, and the disease finally claimed him.

Don was born in Jacksonville, Texas, on Nov.1, 1949. His father was in the oil business and he moved with his family to Alaska in 1962. He attended Central Junior High School and graduated from West Anchorage High School in 1968. That fall he moved to Berkeley, Calif., to pursue his education. He found Berkeley a congenial environment. He became an anti-war activist and lifelong political progressive. Don admired Bernie Sanders and was proud that his son, Robert, was on the slate of Sanders delegates in the 2016 presidential primary. In 1970, Don married the love of his life, Pamela Oakley, a Berkeley native and Cal Berkeley graduate. Their marriage of over 48 years was filled with joy, adventure, and unending love and devotion, which overcame all of the challenges inevitable in a long and fruitful marriage. Don and Pam returned to Anchorage in 1971. Don finished his bachelor’s degree at Alaska Methodist University and began teaching at East High School in 1974. Throughout his career, he took great delight in teaching English.

He went on to become Curriculum Principal at East High, Principal of the School within a School (SWS) at East High School and finally the Principal of Steller Secondary School. During this time of professional growth, Don and Pam raised two children, Holly and Robert, who were his pride and joy. He savored their achievements and supported them in their challenges as they grew into adulthood. He loved them dearly. After retirement from the Anchorage School District, Don went on to spend several years at the University of Alaska Anchorage College of Education and the Educational Leadership Program. During Don’s tenure at UAA, he worked to enhance urban teachers’ understanding of life in remote villages and helped produce a documentary about this program called Dancing the Song.

After that, Don spent several productive years working for the Avant Garde Learning Alliance with extensive outreach to Native Alaskan communities. Since retiring a second time, Don wrote three novels and several collections of poetry. Don left behind his beloved wife of 48 years, Pam; his daughter, Holly Shackelford of Chicago, Ill.; his son, Robert Shackelford of Anchorage; his brother, John Shackelford (wife Chris) of Chagrin Falls, Ohio; and his brother, Jeff Shackelford (wife Deborah) of New Iberia, La. Don was predeceased by his mother, Virginia Shackelford; and his father, Noel Shackelford. His brother-in-law, John Oakley, a professor of law at the University of California, Davis, was a dear friend of over 50 years. In 2017, Don and John Oakley traveled together to Nicaragua to help students at the CEPAD academy in Leon, as well as agricultural workers in the remote village of Las Heurtas. Don talked of this experience until the end of his life. Words cannot convey the depth of the loss to family and friends that Don’s passing means. He will be forever in our hearts. His soul was a great and beautiful one.