Margret Jane Shinn

Margret Jane (Gates) Shinn passed away at the age of 98 on Monday, January 20, 2020 at 2:48 am peacefully in her sleep at the Mennonite Home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  For a southern hillbilly girl born on March 14, 1921, from Signal Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee, she led an unorthodox, adventuresome and exciting life.  Jane’s two younger brothers were Jimmy and Harry, both deceased.

In 1939, after high school at the age of 18, Jane, the only child to leave home, moved to the big city of Atlanta to live with her Aunt Agnus and attend art school.  Jane was recruited by the FBI to work in the cartography division during World War II.  She moved from Atlanta to the Washington, DC area, living in Laurel, Maryland, commuting 25 miles by train into Washington each day for work.

Jane met her husband of 56 years, Charles Curtis Shinn at the FBI.  They were married on June 12, 1943, and had three children:  Charles Curtis Shinn, Jr. (March 17, 1944); Dean Allison Shinn (February 8, 1947) (deceased); and Claudia Gail (Shinn) Lints (August 4, 1952).

From 1950 to 1956, Jane and Charles were early participants in sports car racing.  They traveled the east coast from Watkins Glen to Marlboro Raceway racing numerous cars including a 1953 Corvette, several Austin Healey 100s and their favorite, a 1954 Morgan 4+4.  They were charter members of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and several other sports car racing clubs.  In these early days of the sport the safety equipment was a surplus air force helmet, seatbelts, and a pair of overalls sprayed with fire retardant (no roll bars).  The cars were daily drivers converted for the track on the weekend and back to a daily driver on Sunday night.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Jane was a working mom.  She ran Contemporary Arts, an advertising agency she and Charles owned while Charles continued to work for the federal government.  She also worked for an engineering drafting company.  Jane’s daily driver was the weekend sports car racer.  She was always loading up the kids in the back seat of the Morgan to run daily errands and deliver the kids to their sporting events.  She always found time to participate in the children’s sporting events, especially Claudia’s ballet activities which included a summer as an understudy with the Canadian Ballet.  Jane made sure the children were exposed to the many art galleries and museums in Washington, DC including the Smithsonian and the National Zoo.

For family vacations Jane and Charles would load up a Plymouth station wagon with a World War II army surplus canvas staff tent on the roof to head west for the national parks of the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains.

When Charles retired from the Federal government, they moved to a retirement home “Serendipity Hill” in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland.  They traveled internationally throughout Spain, Italy, France, Greece, and Germany where they spent much time with Charles’ German relatives in Nuremberg.

 When Charles died of a stroke in 1999, Jane returned to her art and painting at the age of 78.

Jane was the last of her generation in the Shinn and Gates immediate families, our greatest generation.  Now Jane rests in peace with angels.  She is sorely missed by her 2 surviving children, 7 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. 

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