Clark Michael “Mike” Shanahan, 64, of Oak Park, formerly of Owosso, Michigan, died on July 1 of COVID-19 complications.
Born in Owosso on July 12, 1955 to Clark and JoAnn (Kelley) Shanahan, after his early years in Durand, he moved with his family to Owosso where he attended Owosso public schools.
He left Owosso to attend the Farallones Institute in California. While there, he met a group of French architects, whom he would later join in a design/build venture in Paris, working as a cabinet and furniture designer and builder.
His first night in Paris, at the age of 22, Mike met the love of his life, Marie-Hélène Roudaut, who would become his wife of 42 years.
He would go on to have his own woodworking shops in and around Paris. A craftsman with a finely-honed aesthetic, and a natural engineer, his clients included Chanel; the actress Delphine Seyrig (at whose home he met Samuel Beckett); the Manufacture Nationale des Gobelins (where he helped restore an 18th-century loom); and a small alimentary business in St. Maur, for which he made a truffle washer. His porte-cochère (coach gate) for the courtyard building, which also housed his first shop, can still be seen in Paris. He greatly admired French culture, and later on in life received a B.A. from UIC in French.
In the U.S., he was the primary designer and craftsman in the transformation of a 1930s barn into a residence for his parents. In Chicago, he produced work for the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Tigerman and McCurry, among others.
An excellent cook, he was also a passionate advocate for racial, social, environmental, and economic justice. This led, as his friends and family can attest, to many fine and memorable meals, followed by lively and enlightening discussions.
He adored his family, and was enthralled with his grandchildren. He loved nothing more than taking his first grandchild, Elliot, on walks, hand-in-hand.
Mike was predeceased by his parents. His survivors include his wife, Marie-Hélène Shanahan; his children, Matthieu Shanahan (April Paulson); Claire (Matthew) Senn of Brookfield, and their children, Elliot and Louise; and Alice (Carlos) Robles-Shanahan of Chicago, and their child, Oliver. He is also survived by his siblings, Kathleen Shanahan (Joseph Hlavacek); Thomas Shanahan (Mariann Watson); Matthew Shanahan (Carla Weiler of Oak Park; and Susan (Jeffrey) Phillips of Owosso.
Due to the pandemic, the memorial will be held at a date and place to be determined.
Any contributions in his name can be made to Black Lives Matter, the Poor People’s Campaign, or the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Mike’s life and death are a reminder to us all to put public safety and the common good ahead of our individual wants.