James Melof Shanks, Longwood, Florida, passed away surrounded by family on December 27, 2016, at the age of 90. He was born in Montgomery, Alabama, on September 3, 1926, to James T. and Emma (Varner) Shanks. Mel and his sister were raised in a loving home anchored by earnest Christian faith. He had a strong work ethic from early childhood which formed the foundation for a successful career in the airline and heavy construction equipment industries.
Mel graduated from Sidney Lanier High School in Montgomery at the height of World War II. After graduation, he served in the Merchant Marine, an experience which he said: "made a man of him." Mel then moved to New Orleans where he was airport manager with TACA International Airlines, married Lee Speir in 1948, and started their family.
In 1962, Mel relocated the family to Mobile, Alabama, where he joined Aircraft Specialists, Inc. In 1968, the family moved to Orlando, Florida, where Mel began his 32-year career as Vice President of Sales with Rockland Manufacturing Co.
Mel and Lee successfully raised their two daughters and proudly watched them advance in medical and legal careers. Mel enjoyed travel, golf, and football, especially Alabama's Crimson Tide.
In 2000, he retired to care for his beloved Lee whose health was failing. They celebrated their 60th anniversary months before her death in 2009.
Mel was also predeceased by his sister (Helen McGuff) and niece (Shirley McGuff Lyle). He will be truly missed by his daughters, Emmalee (Ted) Bandstra and Mary Spillane (Hans Brouwer); granddaughter Bethany Bandstra (Jason) Pappas; great-grandson, Jacob Pappas; nephew, James (Gerrie) McGuff; niece, Barbara McGuff; sisters-in-law, Marilyn Woolley and Mary (Bernard) Rabalais; and extended family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to:
University of Miami Department of Pediatrics-Perinatal CARE Program
Office of Advancement
1601 NW 12th Ave Ste 3026
Miami FL 33136
Published in the Orlando Sentinel from Jan. 7 to Jan. 8, 2017.