John A. Shakely

John Albert Shakely (Jan. 26, 1927- Dec. 1, 2001) was born in Evans City, Pa., and was the youngest child of Clarence E. and Alene Dombart Shakely. He was a veteran of World War II and the dear husband of Marion Bruce Shakely.

John A. ShakelyJohn earned a pilot’s license at age 17 and promptly left Butler High School, Butler, Pa., to enlist in the Army Air Corps. At the war’s end, he attended the Pennsylvania State College (now University), graduating in 1950 with a degree in geology.

He worked as a petroleum geologist for Formation Logging Service in California for several years, until he had saved sufficient funds to fulfill a boyhood dream, a Pacific adventure. He bought a boat and an instruction manual, and set out on the Chesapeake Bay where he taught himself to sail. He enlisted a fraternity brother and landlubber, Paul Linvill of Linvilla Orchards, Media, Pa., as first mate.

Together, they sailed down the east coast, transited the Panama Canal, and entered the Pacific on a 30-foot ketch that had no engine or radio. After visiting many exotic ports, they experienced shipwreck on a coral reed off Moorea in the Society Islands. After a trip by freighter to Australia, John resumed his geological work in South America, the Philippines, and Turkey.

By 1960, John wanted to raise his children in the United States, and decided to change careers. He began graduate studies in history at Temple University, concentrating on China and the Middle East. He began teaching at Central Bucks High School in 1962 and retired in 1990.

He then began his memoirs, dedicating them to his children so they could learn about his life before they knew him. He completed two books: “Skoal” relates his adventures in the Pacific; “Wildcatting” recounts his experiences as a geologist.

John was a skilled cabinet maker and a collector of rare books about the age of sail. He was a member of Sigma Phi Alpha fraternity, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the Naval Institute, and was a charter member of the Cousteau Society.


A paver stone on the Nittany Valley Heritage Walk commemorates John’s time as a Penn State student.

Surviving John, besides his wife, Marion, are two sons, William H. and Joseph M. Shakely, of Warminster; daughters Marion P. Wedo of Harleysville, Alison A. Shakely and her husband, Matthew Nahrgang, of East Norriton, and Samantha C. Shakely and her husband, Robert A. Aboud, of Upper Gwynedd; grandchildren Phillip, Monica, and Andrea Wedo, Tom Shakely, and Christopher, Sarah, and Julia Nahrgang; a brother, Bruce L. Shakely and his wife, Martha, of Beaver, Pa.; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Friends are invited to a Mass to commemorate John’s life, 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7 at Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church, Warminster, Pa. Interment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, contributions to Archbishop Wood Catholic High School, 655 York Road, Warminster, Pa., 18974 are requested, to fund a scholarship award in his memory.

Marion B. Shakely

Marion F. Bruce Shakely (May 8, 1928-) was born in Point Breeze, Philadelphia, Pa., the child of Marion Bruce (nee Roth) and Philip A. Bruce, a World War I veteran and Philadelphia police officer.

MBSAfter moving to Mayfair, Marion attended Mount Saint Joseph Academy in Chestnut Hill, Pa. In 1946 she authored her senior class valedictory, which was modeled on the Christian prayer Lord, Make Me An Instrument of Your Peace, echoing the spirit of the time for post-war reconciliation. She entered the University of Pennsylvania on scholarship, where she was a Kappa Delta sister. In 1950 she graduated with degrees in Political Science and Journalism.

During her time at Penn she met John A. Shakely in Philadelphia on a group blind-date after agreeing to partake as a last minute substitute for a sorority sister whose Navy boyfriend would be in the city. John himself was also a last minute substitute, having agreed to drive three fraternity brothers from Penn State who were lacking a brother with transportation. After a correspondence of eight years, the two wed and eventually settled in Bucks County in the early 1960s. Her five children attended Archbishop Wood Catholic High School, where she assisted fellow marching band parents during the 1970s and ’80s.

She traveled internationally with her family over the course of many years. In Scotland she attended a dinner celebration of 18th century poet Robert Burns, author of Auld Lang Syne. In England she visited Avebury and Stonehenge along with Shakespeare’s village of Stratford-upon-Avon. In Germany she traveled extensively, including a visit to the Castle that inspired the folklore of the Brothers Grimm. In Greece she visited Athens, and Delphi, and attended Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Dionysius the Areopagite on the Feast of the Assumption. In 2000 she traveled to Rome for the Great Jubilee, where she saw Saint John Paul the Great in Saint Peter’s Square. While in Italy she also visited Pompeii and Capri.

When her husband John died in 2001, she created a scholarship in his memory. She survived a late-stage cancer shortly thereafter, and later initiated the John & Marion Shakely Charitable Fund with the Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia to support Catholic charitable causes and grow scholarship assistance.

She continues to live in Warminster.