Sally Bates Shankman passed away peacefully on October 15, 2021. She was surrounded by her loving family and her dog, Scruffy. The cause of her death was ovarian cancer which she had survived for five years. During this period, Sally was amazingly upbeat and courageous, and had time to say goodbye to her many relatives and friends.
Sally was a granddaughter of the American botanist David Fairchild, and a great-granddaughter of Alexander Graham Bell. She was born in Panama in 1942. Her parents, Nancy Fairchild and Marston Bates, were living in nearby Colombia where Marston, a zoologist, was doing research for the Rockefeller Foundation.
Sally was the second of four Bates children, all of whom spent their early years in Colombia. The family moved many times – to Miami, Connecticut, and Puerto Rico — eventually settling in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Sally attended Antioch College where she majored in anthropology and participated in an archaeological dig at Tikal in Guatemala.
She entered the graduate program in anthropology at Harvard in 1965, but left graduate school to pursue a long and interesting career in editing and publishing, working first for Natural History Press at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. In the late 1960s, Sally returned to Cambridge. At this time, she became engaged to Paul Shankman, a graduate student in anthropology at Harvard; they would marry on the beach in their swimsuits in southern California in 1970.
In 1972, Sally became a science editor for Saturday Review in San Francisco. After the magazine folded, Paul and Sally moved to Boulder in 1973 where Sally became a technical editor for the National Center for Atmospheric Research and then for the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. She retired in 2000. Sally’s family has a summer home in rural Nova Scotia, and she loved spending her summers there with as many as twenty family members sharing a rambling, century old home together. Just before her death, she was able to spend a month there in her favorite place.
Sally also loved to travel. With Paul, she often traveled to California and around the South Pacific. Sally also traveled with her girlfriends around Europe, Thailand, Cambodia, Bali, the Galapagos and Machu Picchu. And she regularly visited her wide circle of relatives and friends. Sally was an avid jogger who loved the Bolder Boulder as well as the occasional thrill of skydiving, bungee jumping, and river rafting. In retirement, Sally enjoyed hosting weekly Qigong classes, meeting with her book club, and walking with friends.
Although she had been raised with cats, Sally became a dog lover after moving to Boulder. A dedicated dog walker, Sally befriended many other dog walkers. Sally’s greatest joys in life were the birth of her son, Michael, in 1980, and the births of Michael and Kenly Shankman’s three children: Nash, Noa, and Elijah. She loved her grandchildren and was so glad to be with them as she passed.
Sally is survived by Paul to whom she was married for 51 years, Michael and Kenly and their children, her two sisters, Marian and Barbara, and their husbands, Andy and Ben, and their children as well as many wonderful nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, and the many friends who will miss her love, energy, and generosity.
A private celebration of Sally’s life will be held in the spring in Boulder, and her ashes will be buried at her family home in Nova Scotia next summer. Should you wish to remember Sally, her favorite cause was Planned Parenthood. Contributions in Sally’s name can be made to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains in memory of Sally Shankman.