Obituary – Kenneth Gerald Shank

Kenneth Gerald Shank

May 29, 1930 – April 17, 2019
Age: 88
Residence: Springfield, MO
Formerly of: Kansas City, MO

Kenneth Gerald Shank passed away peacefully on April 17, 2019 after a brief period in hospice care. He was 88.   

Ken or “Jerry”, as he was sometimes known by friends and family, was born May 29, 1930 in Kansas City, Missouri. He was the eldest child of Kenneth E. Shank and Lola Mae Shank. He grew up in Springfield, Missouri, attending Rountree Elementary, Pipkin Junior High and Central High School. Ken had strong case of wanderlust and persuaded his parents to allow him to join the Army Air Forces at age 16. He served for 6 years, reaching the rank of sergeant. Ken was stationed primarily in the Philippines and Nagoya, Japan. His time in the service broadened his view of the world and he developed an appreciation for Japanese culture. He made many friends from across the U.S. and several of these friendships were lifelong.    

Ken said the most important benefit of his service was the G.I. Bill, which allowed him to enroll in Southwest Missouri State in 1952. Ken was the first in his family to attend college. While studying at SMS, he worked as a sportscaster for KWTO Radio in Springfield. Upon graduation, he began teaching at Central High School in Springfield. He then taught in St. Louis, Sikeston and finally Galena—where he was school principal. 

Ken left public education in the early 1960s to pursue a career in insurance.  Over the course of many years, he worked for State Farm, New York Life, Kansas City Life and American National. In 1977 he founded Ken Shank Insurance Agency, specializing in long haul trucking. Ken sold the agency in 2007, when he finally retired at age 77.

Ken will be remembered for many admirable qualities. He had a robust sense of humor, always seeing the lighter side in any crises. He had a genial nature. Ken was a faithful and committed friend. He loved following the St. Louis Cardinals. He passed on his love of baseball to the Vincel Wildcats, his son’s Kiwanis Little League team he coached in the 1960s. He was a long-time member of Twin Oaks Country Club and enjoyed playing golf there with his wife of 53 years, Sharon, and their many friends. They also enjoyed participation in several dinner/dance groups.   

Ken’s most important legacy, however, is as a son, brother, husband, and father. While in the Air Force, he sent a substantial portion of his pay back home to assist his family. He was a devoted spouse. At crucial times in his children’s lives, he offered sound guidance, direction and support. As a parent, he got the big things right.

Ken will be greatly missed by family and friends. 

He is predeceased by his wife Sharon, parents Kenneth and Lola Shank, and by brothers Jack Shank, Stanley Shank, Ron Shank and Bill Shank. He is survived by his sister Linda Pollock of Arlington, Texas, and by his children, Christopher Shank (Lili) of Kansas City and Andrea Wise (Bill) of Springfield. He is also survived by grandchildren Jason Wise (Leah), Joe Wise (Brittany) and Jamie Aton (Chris) all of Springfield, and by Curtis Shank of Kansas City, Sylvia Laurence (Trevor) of Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Tiernan Shank of Kansas City. Ken has 9 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his companion of 7 years, Paula Sivils. 

A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2019 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Metropolitan Grill, 2931 E. Battlefield Road, Springfield, Missouri. All who knew him are invited to attend. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Ozarks Food Harvest. To leave an online condolence, please visit 


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130 Industrial Park, Suite E
Hollister, MO 65672
Phone: (417) 544-0218
Visit WebsiteService InformationLocation: Metropolitan Grill
Date/Time: 4/27/19. 2:00-4:00 PM
2931 E Battlefield Rd
Springfield, MO