REMEMBER WHEN: Remembering Dan Shehan
Published 2:00 pm Friday, January 27, 2023
The passing of outstanding citizens should never go unnoticed. This is the case in the death of one we learned of recently. Many friends were saddened when we heard the news of Mr. Dan Shehan who left the surly bonds of life on this earth just after the new year. He had been a charter member of the Covington Historical Society. This is my feeble attempt to honor and remember the life of my dear friend whom I and others admired so much.
Beginning in the mid 1960s, Dan was a teacher of English at the Andalusia High School for a number of years. Serving on the Andalusia Public Library Board of Trustees was a sheer pleasure of Mr. Shehan’s as he promoted his literary interests and the joys of reading to his students and the citizenry.
Shehan blessed many audiences and congregations with his organ music where he served several churches as a substitute organist. He happily whiled the time away practicing in his spare time on his home instruments. Not too many years ago, he donated one of his favorite home organs to the First Baptist Church for use in the chapel.
Along with fellow teacher Mr. Joseph Wingard, Mr. Shehan collaborated with his best friend in writing numerous lilting songs to be introduced and sung at their annual Christmas sing-a-long parties that lasted for 25 years. O’Shehan, the name he used as a songwriter, wrote the music and Wingard penned the lyrics. All of the songs were copywrited. A favorite of the singers was “The Mistletoe Song.” What a two-some!
The annual event looked forward to by many of their friends and associates was first held at Shehan’s home, Dovecoat, in Meadowbrook. As the crowd and participants grew, the party was moved to various churches including the First Methodist, the First Baptist Chapel, and the First Presbyterian. Shehan played the organ and Wingard led the singing which consisted of the first half, secular Christmas songs, and the second half, religious traditional songs. An elaborate array of refreshments prepared by their guests was served and enjoyed during the “intermission.” What a joyful time they presented as they celebrated the Christmas season!
In 1976 during the American Bicentennial year, Wingard and Shehan produced and directed a musical version they created of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women.” Local citizens, actors and musicians, starred as the whimsical characters on stage. From what I hear, there may be a comeback of this marvelous production one of these days.
In the 1980s Shehan played a major part in the movement of historic preservation in downtown Andalusia. He along with an out-of-state partner, William Kiepura from California, purchased the old First National Bank Building known in later years as the Timmerman Building purchased by Frank Timmerman from The Commercial Bank. Each floor was converted to rental apartments and a penthouse above, he occupied as the resident landlord. As a result, the theme of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “THIS PLACE MATTERS,” was promoted. He like his historical society group of friends believed that each downtown abandoned older building had potential for new use. Several downtown storefront buildings under his leadership were converted for new use as offices.
Shehan later moved to Savannah, Georgia where he shared his talent in music and continued his involvement and passion for restoration/preservation. He regularly kept in touch with his hometown Andalusia friends.
Afflicted as a child with polio, Dan Shehan persevered with severe health problems for most of his life having to rest and sleep in an iron lung until c-pap machines were invented. He overcame that ailment by sheer will and completed his college education and other higher education striving to lead a normal life in the face of many odds along the way.
A faithful club member of the historical society, he will be sorely remembered as a conscientious businessman and as a citizen who helped to preserve local history.
We will miss and Remember When Mr. Shehan dressed in his Lepricon attire playing “Danny Boy” on the organ and posting the tune to social media on St. Patrick’s Day each year as he celebrated his Irish heritage. He is survived by a few Everage cousins, his mother’s maiden name, and a host of former students and friends who loved and adored him.
Top o’ the morning to you, Mr. Shehan, up there in heaven!
Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a local real estate broker, former choral music teacher, and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at email@example.com.