Obituary for William "Bill" Shackleford

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William Shackleford

January 1, 1950 - December 17, 2020



William Shackleford, fondly known as Bill, passed away on December 17, 2020, at age 70 in his home in Galloway, OH, after a year-long struggle with ALS.


He was born on January 1, 1950, the youngest of three, to Sara (Davis) and Dudley Shackleford. He grew up in Oak Hill, OH, and from the get-go everyone was worried that he slept on his back and had a flat head. No matter: he was a lovely moon-faced child who enjoyed  the Oak Hill library and veals, sang in his church, and may or may not have scared off one of his sister’s suitors with a burp gun from behind a couch. (He remembered the weapon but not the assault.) He graduated from Oak Hill High School in 1968 and went on to Miami University in Oxford, OH, where he studied sociology and psychology.


There, he met his wife Melanie in a first-year English class, where he probably commented quite a bit. She remembers an early date to a 1970 Simon & Garfunkel concert. They listened to the duo play the international debut of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” released before spring 1970 when the National Guard came to campuses in Ohio in response to protests. Bill and Melanie graduated in 1972, and when Melanie went to California for a graduate degree, they talked frequently on the phone. Melanie appreciated Bill’s calming voice. They married in 1974 with little fanfare, as they did most things, and acquired a lot of books for their Columbus apartment as well as their first cat.


With a graduate degree in social work administration from the Ohio State University, Bill spent his career working for the state at the Ohio Department of Health, as a senior policy advisor for the Department of Developmental Disabilities, and finally at the Department of Education, getting the Ohio Medicaid Schools program running. His career centered around ensuring that individuals, especially those with autism or a disability, have the services they need.


Before and after retirement, he could most often be found lounging in his recliner, reading anything from Faulkner to Joyce to David Mitchell and Stephen King. He finished the full Proust opus (or octopus, to quote him). From 2013-2020, he read over 660 books and more than 250,000 pages.


He enjoyed movies, television, theater, Ohio State football, and the Cincinnati Reds. He watched and read widely, but especially appreciated satire, humor, and science fiction. He enjoyed trying new beers with his son, sitting out in the yard talking with his daughter, and going on drives with his wife. To the chagrin of his nuclear family, he was the kind of person who left peanut butter on a door handle.


As a life-long resident of Ohio, he appreciated Ohio restaurants, writers, and treasures. He was intrigued by his Welsh ancestry, and spent time studying his family genealogy.


His sneaky wit, quiet kindness, and ability to listen will be missed. He had an impressively variegated mustache and dark, mischievous eyes that flitted back and forth after jokes.


He is survived, and loved, by his wife of 46 years, Melanie Davis, his two children, Ben and Anne Shackleford, his sister Janice Fraber (Bob), brother Tom (Sue), nieces Beth Exline and Chris Grau (Kurt), and nephews Brad (Katie) and Adam (Migdalia). He leaves many cousins and friends. He is predeceased by his parents, Sara (Davis) and Dudley Shackleford.


Remembrance events (Columbus and Oak Hill) will be planned for a later date.  Please leave a note on this website if you are interested in being notified as to place and time. Events will likely be planned only after covid-19 vaccination has become widespread.

karen lane posted on February 12, 2021

Dear Melanie, This note is long overdue, but I know from my own experience, later notes reminded me of how much people thought of my loved one. Thus I wanted to share my thoughts with you about how important Bill was when we worked together at the ODH/BCMH. He always was thinking of how best to serve the cheildren and their families who were on the program or who were applying to the program. Additioally he was sensitive to the issues of the local health departments and the BCMH providers who served children with medical handicaps and their families. I am proud of what was accomplished by the BCMH program during our tenure together..............a lot of it was due to Bill's thoughtful ideas and efforts. I know that words will not heal the hurt and rawness that you (and your family) feel, but know that many people share your loss. May the coming of spring and longer days bring you peace and comfort. With sincere sympathy.

Jim Quilty posted on January 12, 2021

Dear Melanie and Family, Bill and I worked together for a dozen years at ODH. It's doubtful we went through a single week where he and I didn't meet over some large or small problem in assuring fair and equal treatment for each child and family on the handicapped children's program. You and I met several times - I think - at one of the Christmas/Holiday parties at my home. That was in the 1980s. Bill provided wonderful care and caring to all of those children. He advocated for everything he needed to advocate for. He as a good man! My only sister died 6 1/2 years ago from ALS., in her early 70s. Henceforth when I assist the med students at CWRU School of Medicine in learning about this awful disease Bill and Joyce both will receive mention. Thank you for the presence of Bill in my life. Warmly, jimQ

Nancy (Simpson)Howell-Cherrington posted on January 8, 2021

My sincere condolences to the family of Bill Shackleford. Bill and I were raised in the same era (I being 3 years older) as neighbors on Main Street of Oak Hill. His smile has not changed as he was a quiet but sincere person growing up. (a little timid) It sounds like he had a wonderful life and memories to cherish. May your family find comfort during this time. "One day at a Time"

Tom Holton posted on January 7, 2021

Bill was my roommate in our freshman year at Miami. We were very much alike in many ways and got along well. I knew from very early he was a very smart fellow! We did not stay in close touch after that year although I am sure we ran into each other on campus now and then. I was in Navy ROTC which took a lot of time. I am sad to read of Bill's passing and not surprised at all to read of his career in a field dedicated in service to others. I thought of Bill often over the years, curious what he had been doing. He certainly did well for himself, for others, and his family.

Julia Bricker posted on January 6, 2021

I am so very sorry to hear about Bill’s passing. We worked together for years at ODH and I appreciated his quick wit and dedication to the children of Ohio with special healthcare needs. Prayers for peace.


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