You only had to meet Shanelle once to understand why the words tenacious, kind, generous and beautiful apply. Shanelle Nicole Burns-Cook was born June 19th, 1980 in Plymouth, Indiana. Every good thing in this world started with a dream, and from an early age Shanelle had a vision for where she wanted to go, who she wanted to be, and what she wanted to accomplish.
Shanelle’s formative years were spent in Argos and nearby Culver, where she would sing in choir and at church, write skits to perform with her cousins, and snack on onions she’d snuck from her grandmother’s garden. Shanelle taught herself to play piano, classical of course, a hobby that carried on throughout adulthood. She also would journal voraciously, writing poetry and stories that showed her creative and organizational prowess. One story written in high school included a detailed cast of characters, descriptions of locations from the story as well as a fully illustrated map of the countryside from the tale. This is in addition to the more than fifty page manuscript.
Even from an early age, Shanelle always knew exactly what she wanted for herself. At 13, she penned a now infamous proclamation that she would “…never perform the act of matrimony” even having her grandmother witness the signing of the document. I wonder what her 13-year-old self would think when she accepted a marriage proposal by now-husband Phil Cook in the spring of 2019.
Phil and Shanelle officially tied the knot in 2021 in front of a packed room of family and friends. The party was exactly as she had planned with every timeframe outlined and every detail accounted for in true Shanelle style. Shanelle always had a thirst for travel, and her vision for adventure has subsequently led them to travel to London, visiting Buckingham Palace, the English countryside to see Mr. Darcy’s house, Tuscany to enjoy the serenity as well as a good glass of Brunello di Montalcino wine, and her favorite happy place, Maui, Hawaii where she loved to get up early and catch the ocean sunrise with a hot cup of coffee.
If you were to ask Shanelle’s friends what mattered most to her you would get a universal response: her son. Shanelle worked tirelessly to build an enviable life for the two of them, ensuring he had every opportunity to succeed. She took great pride in being a mother and poured all her resources into building a supportive and loving environment.
There is an old Spanish saying that goes “tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are” that is especially relevant to Shanelle. Everyone that Shanelle encountered in her life has been affected by her. Shanelle never gave up, not in challenging family or parenting situations. She never settled for second best in herself or in others, and she always encouraged you to be better. Shanelle had worked hard to ensure she was successful in life, but the beauty that also comes with her personality is that she also wanted her friends and family to be equally successful. Colleagues from the many schools and universities that she has worked with all attest to her tenacity and drive. Whether family, friend or work colleague, if Shanelle was adamant about an issue, she would discuss the 50 reasons why she felt as she did, and more often than not, you’d end up agreeing. She was brilliant and deliberate. If you were flirting with the idea of giving up, you could be throwing away something wonderful and that was not acceptable to her.
Her work ethic and personal ethos are also reflected in her success in her career. Reading every book imaginable and with exceptional hard work, Shanelle began her career as an assistant researcher at Culver Academies and 22 years later had worked her way to become Assistant Vice President, Advancement Operations and Campaign Planning at Loyola University Chicago, with 29 members on her team.
Shanelle was also a dedicated friend. Whether she sent you random texts about her loathing of the final season of Game of Thrones, or encouragement to pursue a better job opportunity, she was always there for those that called her friend.
Shanelle was taken from all of us much too soon, though she may be gone from this world, her spirit will continue to shine through the lives of all who were fortunate enough to know her. May her memory be a blessing and her legacy inspire all of us to live with the same tenacity, kindness and generosity that defined her remarkable life.
Shanelle is survived by her son; her husband, Phil Cook; stepdaughters Thatch and Sophia Cook; father, Keith Burns; stepmother, Charlotte Burns; mother, Dorothy Pippenger; sister, Stefanie Pippenger; brother, Ty Burns; her favorite pup Tilly, and a host of other family members and friends who will cherish her memory forever.
Visitation will be held from 10:30am-12:30pm with a memorial service immediately following on Friday, February 16th at Johnson-Danielson Funeral Home, 1100 N Michigan St, Plymouth, IN 46563 with Dr. Sam Boys officiating. Shanelle loved flowers, but she would also love for you to consider making a memorial contribution to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.