Eleanor Shantz Passes
June 10, 2023
Eleanor R. Shantz, of Eugene Oregon, died on June 10, 2023 at the age of 82 years. Eleanor was born in California and moved to Myrtle Point, Oregon when she was a young child. Eleanor and Wayne were married for 61 years where they created a legacy in the dahlia world. Eleanor was a teacher, was active in her church and the Lane County Dahlia Society. Many were blessed by the hospitality that Eleanor provided for her family which extended to her church and her friends. Her special musical talent was playing the piano by ear; she played for her church and for family and friends at home. One particular quality dahlia judges are taught is judging demeanor. Eleanor exhibited the kindness and respect of judging demeanor not only in judging, but in life. She was a true lady in every good sense of the word.
Eleanor was best known in dahlia circles for the amazing dahlia baskets she created and entered in local and National exhibitions garnering many Best of Show ribbons. She was generous in passing on her skills through well-attended seminars as well as individual mentoring over the years. Her use of sword ferns in most of her baskets was rooted in the harvesting of sword ferns from the family property which were sold to florists and helped to pay for college.
Eleanor was a key leader of the Lane County Dahlia Society. She was the Society President for many years and served in other roles. She presented the awards for each annual show where she intentionally made each award presentation personally meaningful, encouraging every exhibitor. The extraordinarily tall, mass display she created each year featured dahlias, along with the cattails she foraged, was the centerpiece of the show room, truly a trademark of the Eugene show.
In their peak dahlia growing years Eleanor Wayne grew 500-600 plants. They introduced several new dahlia cultivars and in 1981 they received both the Derrill Hart and Lynn Dudley Medals, for “Daddy’s Girlie”, a miniature, formal decorative, purple dahlia. They were trainers for dahlia judges. They conducted training locally but were also willing to travel to share their knowledge and perspective. Many years ago, they developed a comprehensive set of judges training DVD’s which, at the time, filled a need for those that wanted to learn about judging dahlias but were not able to attend live training sessions.
Wayne and Eleanor co-chaired the Classification Committee for the American 2002-2007. This is a big job and results in the annual Classification Handbook which is probably the most anticipated publication of the American Dahlia Society. Many technological hurdles were overcome during their tenure to create a more user-friendly database system, which is still appreciated to this day.
Eleanor and Wayne held a leadership role with the Pacific Northwest Dahlia Conference and were recipients of the Conference Gold Medal in 1993. In recognition of the significant service provided to the American Dahlia Society, Eleanor and Wayne were selected as Gold Medal honorees in 2006. This award celebrates exceptional contributions to the national society. Eleanor and Wayne are part of an elite group of members who can claim this special honor.
In addition to Wayne, Eleanor is survived by a daughter and a son and seven grandchildren.
Rest in peace, dahlia friend.
Memorial contributions in memory of Eleanor may be made to the American Dahlia Society. Contributions can be mailed to The American Dahlia Society in care of Charles Miehm, Treasurer, 38430 Piggott Bottom, Hamilton, VA 20158 or submitted online here.