Shannon Dale Work, 61 years old of Harpster, Idaho passed away the evening of March 23, 2019, with his wife by his side. Shannon was born on April 11, 1957 to Jack and Elva Work. In 1976, he married the love of his life, Jan and they spent the next 42 years as soulmates.
After Shannon graduated from Boise State University with a degree in Communications in 1980, he attended University of Oregon School of Law from 1985-1988. Then, after graduating and taking the Bar exams, became a member of the Idaho State and Oregon State Bar. During the summer of 1986, Shannon worked for the Native American Rights Fund in Washington D.C. and later through spring of 1987, he worked as a research assistant under Professor Charles Wilkinson, at the University of Oregon School of Law.
After graduating Law School, Shannon moved to Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho with his wife Jan and worked for the Indian Law Unit at Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc. until 1991. He served as general legal counsel for the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho and Kootenai Tribal Economic Development Corporation, and later became the Director. In 1991 Shannon became a partner in the law firm Givens, Funke and Work where he provided general legal counsel to the Coeur d’ Alene Tribe. In 2006 Shannon went into private practice.
As a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Shannon was proud of the work he did for the various tribes throughout his legal career. He was lead counsel in several lawsuits and during the time in private practice, he represented the Spokane Tribe on many issues. Shannon was a mentor and a role model for young native lawyers and also authored several chapters of textbooks for educational purposes. Shannon worked for the Spokane Tribe on Little Falls Dam settlement; US v. Anderson and facilitated mercury clean-up for the Elem Pomo Tribe out of Northern California. Shannon also represented the 5 civilized Tribes of Oklahoma. He was a passionate, relentless, and creative advocate for Indian country, and he will be sorely missed by his colleagues and those he served with distinction. Paramount among his achievements was the Midnite Mine cleanup. Considering how difficult it was to achieve that cleanup outcome in the world of CERCLA on the Spokane Indian Reservation was a benchmark for remediation in Indian country.
Even though Shannon devoted his career to helping many tribes with their fight over environmental issues, he still took the time to spend many nights and weekends with his children and their sports activities. He coached his son, Carson in Little League, and his daughter Lela in softball. He also enjoyed watching his son Carson wrestle in High School. He seldom missed a game, wrestling match or tournament. In addition, Shannon spent many hours with his daughter Lela traveling back and forth to Spokane as her catcher and assistant pitching coach. He and Jan traveled often to watch Lela play throughout her travel, high school and College softball careers. One highlight was when he was able to attend the WAC tournament, in Fresno Ca., watching Lela pitch in relief 9 innings against LaTech. He never stopped talking about the tournament or the many other highlights of Lela’s softball career. He was so proud of her.
Being a father and grandfather was important to Shannon. He taught both Carson and Lela how to fish and hunt and had begun to teach his granddaughter Dior the sport of fishing as well. He and Lela went hunting together often and whenever possible Carson went too. Birthdays and Holidays were also important family times for Shannon. He made sure to make them special for everyone. He adored his Granddaughter Dior and cherished every moment he was able to spend with her. He gave her rides on the John Deer mower in the summer and in the winter, pulled her on her sled behind it. Shannon made sure he attended Dior’s special activities, such as swim lessons or her Kindergarten graduation, and while living in CDA, Sunday breakfast at IHOP became a regular occasion.
Shannon loved to watch his Oregon Ducks and Boise State Broncos play football, basketball and softball. He and Jan attended numerous football bowl and championship games together and also attended many Boise State softball games. When he and Jan couldn’t see the games live, they could be found cheering on their teams on the big screen TV. He really loved his sports.
Jan and Shannon purchased the property on the South Fork of the Clearwater where family could meet on a regular basis to camp, hunt, fish, or to just hang out. One of the best memories Shannon had on the South Fork was catching a Steelhead on their stretch of the river! It was mounted and now hangs on the wall in the den. Because the river location was so enjoyable, Shannon and Jan decided to build a home and retire there. Since Jan was still working for the Coeur d’Alene School District, Shannon was able to spend more time at the “river house” than Jan. He set up a second office and was at the river, more than Coeur d’Alene. He LOVED the river, and the space he and Jan had acquired. After Jan retired from the CDA School District, he and Jan sold their home just outside of Coeur d’ Alene and moved full time to the river. It was their dream to hang out together on the river with the dogs and enjoy life. Whenever possible, he, Jan and the dogs would go down the hill to the river and have lunch, a campfire, or both, and listen to the river, throw sticks for the dogs, watch the deer, eagles, geese, and more, while enjoying each other’s company.
The river house provided more than just peace and solitude for Shannon, the property also had blackberries galore, morel mushrooms in the spring, and a wide variety of fruit trees. He always talked of getting a cider press and in addition to making homemade beer, making hard apple cider. For quite some time he had planned on making a special beer with cherries from the fruit trees for Jan. Shannon had so many dreams about his future. He was working on a book, related to the work he had done for the past 30 years that was to include photos he’d taken on the various reservations throughout the country. Shannon also had become quite the gourmet cook, planning recipes to try, using ingredients from the property.
Shannon will be greatly missed. He was an extremely smart man and respected by all. In his absence, a huge void has been left in the world. Shannon is preceded in death by his grandmother Agnes Sievers, his grandfather John Carson Sievers, his grandmother Lousina Work, grandfather Buck Work and father Jack Work.
Shannon is survived by his loving wife Jan, their two children Carson and Lela, granddaughter Dior, brother Mike Work, sister Karen Page, niece Elenor, nephew A.J. Work, his wife Sarah and grandniece Henley, mother Elva Work-Yoder, step-father Jerry Yoder, step brother Jon Yoder, step-brother Drew Yoder and his wife Katrina.
A celebration of Shannon’s life will be at 1:00 pm on Saturday, March 30th, 2019 at The Fraternal Order of Eagles, 209 Sherman Avenue, Coeur d Alene, Idaho 83814. (208) 664-2218. A reception will follow. Arrangements are under the direction of the Blackmer Funeral Home of Grangeville. You may submit condolences online at Blackmerfuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s hospital in Shannon’s name.