Goodbye Friend

202 fancy & wb banquets 019We mourn the loss of a giant, Robert Shannon, Jr.  Bob Shannon meant and means that much to us.  He is a giant.  Bob was a real person who did what he did out of love and caring, not for money or fame or power.  I had the honor of knowing his humble and kind father, Robert Shannon, Sr., and I always saw his dad in Bob.  I saw the love of his children and Susan in him.

There are many things about Bob that we all know.  He was tall.  He was really tall.  He was a leader, Captain of the great Quaker City String Band for nearly 40 years.  He remains the most popular and best known of all Mummers of the Modern era.  Bob loved Mummery and he loved being Captain.  When I saw Bob, I usually said, “Mr. Ambassador!” He was a natural at connecting with those in awe of this tall (did I mention he was tall?), costumed man who looked like a giant among giants with his hat and huge back piece.  His movements were graceful for a big man.  He covered a lot of ground in a few steps, and flashed that broad smile and pointed that trademark forefinger right at you.  It may the only time you ever wanted a finger pointed at you.

All kinds of memories are colliding with each other right now, probably in you, too, if you knew Bob.  It’s been like this since Susan called today to say that Bob had passed.  Among the many thoughts, what can we do to console and be there for Susan, the family, and the band.

There are random memories of Bob, including that he liked to have fun, and that he loved Ireland and Galveston, Texas.  He was a Mummer historian, he was a friend, and he was also a great goodwill Ambassador for the city throughout this nation and across the seas.  He worked behind the scenes with TV and city administrations to promote and protect the Philadelphia tradition and help the city achieve its goals. I will never again get to greet him with, “Mr. Ambassador.”  I like to think it was our thing.

But, Bob was much more. He knew what friendship meant.  He understood that he could help a child grieve, an elderly person enjoy a difficult life and he would go anywhere to help his band, a Mummer family, his friends, strangers in need and his city.

Bob really enjoyed being a Mummer, and particularly when it came to his Captain’s suit, which especially in Bob’s era was special and often hidden from the public until parade day.  I’ll always remember the first time he said to me, “Hey, want to go upstairs and see the suit?”  Two grown men scrambling upstairs like it was Christmas morning and the only ones who got to see Santa.

Many of us will have thoughts, flashing little bits of memories, that we are pained to think we will never be able to experience again.  One of mine is Bob saying, “How you doing, pal?”  You see, he meant it.  He wanted to know.

To the Shannon family, thank you for sharing this goodhearted man with the City of Philadelphia, our region, with the countless hours in parades, in rehearsals, in visiting the sick and in bringing wide smiles to children.  Our respect for him is deep.  Our condolences to you are as tall as the giant who has decided he need not walk among us for a while.

We have lost a good man.  We will still see glimpses of him in the Class, Pride and Commitment of Quaker City String Band, in the good faith of his brother and sister Mummers in all divisions, in the strength of his family, and when we think of Philadelphia Mummery’s Mt. Rushmore.  You know, Bob Shannon, Jr. is there.


14 Responses

  1. My name is Laura Meehan, I didn’t know him in person, but my father and family as known and seen what he has brought to the mummers! Wow he was and always will be an amazing man and mummer! May he rest is peace.. keep on strutting! Say hi to all the mummers up there! ☂️😘❤️

  2. My deepest heartfelt sympathy for the Shannon family….Although I did not know Bob personally…but, it seems as though I have known him for years…He indeed was a gentle giant….May he rest in Gods arms…….RIP BOB

  3. With a heavy heart,my husband Jimmy Alex and myself Marla Broomhead from Ferko string band has had the opportunity to have BOB,reach out to us one summer day in wildwood when he reached over and lifted my daughter Brittany as an infant and continued to do the mummers strut with her,what an exciting day,and another memory when walking on broad street on new years day waiting for the bands to step off,Bob stopped and took the time to take a picture with my girls which I will cherish forever thank you for being the giant you are, RIP Mr Bob Shannon will be missed,enjoy that party in heaven with all those( great mummers).🤗

  4. We knew Bob. He was a great person. R.I.P Bob. Our thoughts and prayer go out to Susan and his family.
    He will be missed

  5. Condolences to the Shannon family on the loss of a legend! RIP Bob.

  6. A great loss to QCSB and Philadelphia. I met Bob through my cousin Annie. One of my many trips back to Philly was to Convention Hall to watch the Mummers performance. How special I felt standing in the front row and seeing Bob strut over to me, remembering me and giving me the biggest hug and kiss in front of thousands of people. You were quite a
    gentleman and you will be missed. May God Rest Your Soul. 🙏

  7. Thanks, Steve.

  8. A beautiful tribute to your dear friend. I was shocked to hear of his passing as we just saw him Sunday at Gloucester City Irish parade. Although he looked thin , he still walked tall and had , as usual the biggest smile. Our group The Two Street Stompers honored him in our program this year. Bobby was a distant relative to my moms family. My grand mom was an Albuger. May God give his family peace and our continued prayers go out to you , his family , friends and band members. RIP Bobby.

    • Thank you, Lorraine. The Stompers are always appreciative of good hearted people. Bob was definitely that and more. Thank you.

  9. A True Gentleman, a Kind Soul, Bob Shannon. I knew Bob thru my Aunt & Uncle, who was in Fralianger. I would see him out at the Deptford Mall over the years, and always would hello to him. He always had that smile, & took time to chat. I just saw Sunday in Gloucester City’s Irish Parade, I wave and said hello & took his picture. Cannot believe that’s the last time we all would see him walk up a street w/Quaker City SB. A True Mummer, Showman, just a good guy. My deepest sympathies to the Shannon Family & Quaker City SB, to you Steve Highsmith, his friend. I know you’ll keep his Memory Alive each & every NY Day.

  10. He’ll live on in my memory forever! God Bless him and his family.

  11. A true legend.
    No one will ever fill Bob Shannon’s
    Golden Slippers.
    Rest In Peace.

  12. Steve you said it best this was a man with a pure heart snd always made anyone he met feel special.Great memories with him over the years.Such a huge void in mummery with his passing.No one can fill these shoes.Always wish we could have had him longer in our lives

  13. Dear Steve,
    I’m Peter A Broomall’s Grandson, my name is Ed Gibson. My mother Catherine V Broomall was his only daughter. I was the bank mascot and then a banjo players in my teens.
    I’m trying hard to uncover any information on a traditional string band song entitled The Mummers Parade.
    I have done giggle searches and checked the Mummers Museum but to no avail.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: