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Mary Jane DeVillars Shank, 100, teacher, volunteer

July 15, 1914 – Feb. 26, 2015

Mary Jane DeVillars Shank, schoolteacher, churchwoman and active volunteer, died Thursday in Oxford Village at Canterbury Woods, Amherst. She was 100.

Born in Clinton, Pa., she graduated from Findlay High School in Pennsylvania and attended Indiana State Teachers College of Pennsylvania.

In 1942, she married John J. DeVillars in Clinton, Pa. After World II, they moved to Western New York, first to Jamestown, where Mr. DeVillars was vice president of Chautauqua National Bank, and then to Buffalo in 1956, when he was named a vice president of Marine Midland Bank.

Mr. DeVillars died in 1971 and she later married William H. Shank Jr. in 1978, who preceded her in death.

Mrs. Shank worked as an elementary school teacher for Allegheny County (Pa.) School System from the 1930s through the early 1940s.

She was a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Buffalo and First Presbyterian Church in Jamestown.

She was an active volunteer in numerous local organizations during her 60 years as a resident of Western New York including Women’s Committee of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Westminster Presbyterian Church Children’s School, Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, Chautauqua Development Commission, and Chautauqua Women’s Club Scholarship Committee. She participated in numerous capital campaigns on behalf of the Chautauqua Women’s Club.

On her 96th birthday in 2011, a flower garden at the Chautauqua Women’s Club was dedicated in honor of her service.

Tom Becker, Chautauqua Institution’s president, described her at the time as “a tireless advocate for Chautauqua who exemplifies what it means to be an engaged Chautauquan.”

An amateur artist who studied under Buffalo-area watercolorist Rita Auerbach, Mrs. Shank was an enthusiastic participant in painting, play reading, committee work and other activities at Canterbury Woods until the time of her death.

Survivors include a son, John P. DeVillars; and stepson, William H. Shank.

A memorial service will be scheduled in July at Chautauqua Institution.

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