Douglas Shanak, 56, passed away on January 17th, 2015 after a three year battle with esophageal cancer.
When he was diagnosed, he was given a 1 in 10 chance of making it six months, and as usual proved even the doctors wrong. He never once gave up the fight and in fact, did not die from the cancer, but from the side effects of the treatment. He remained optimistic throughout the three years, and even in his last days, still maintained that he was going to make it.
Doug was born in Wausau, WI on November 23, 1958 at 2:24 p.m., only minutes after his twin brother Dwight. He was the son of Mike (Jr.) and Virginia (Beck) Shanak. The twins, “Dougie” and “Ikie,” were partners in crime from the very beginning. They shared many mischievous escapades throughout their early lives. They were inseparable and where you would find one, the other would not be far behind. Doug was a very determined individual, and always had an independent spirit. Everything he accomplished and acquired in life was due to his hard work and self-reliance. It was hard for him to accept help, simply because he felt that if he could do for himself, then there was no need for anyone else to do for him. He was born with a natural instinct to fix things, whether it be a dryer, or a Cryovac machine. He could fix anything if he put his mind to it; and would consider his day wasted if he did not accomplish at least one thing. Doug could be very stubborn at times, like all Shanaks. It is a quality that served him well in situations that required him to stand his ground, and not back down. He persevered through even the toughest challenges with strength, courage, and faith. He did not want to hear from others that it could not be done, and would work to prove them otherwise.
Doug loved to talk about anything and everything. He could talk for hours on end without getting tired of the conversation, and one had better not visit him if they did not have time to talk. As much as he loved to talk, he loved to debate even more, and would even argue a point-of-view with which he did not agree.
Doug loved school and loved to learn. He graduated from Wausau East High School in 1977, one semester early; and went on to attend the University of Wisconsin in Madison. His favorite subject was history, though he liked many subjects ranging from mechanical engineering, to computers, to the sciences and math. He always wanted to know how everything worked, and many times would teach himself. He also loved instilling knowledge in others, and would try to do so during every conversation. He believed knowledge was the key to success, and that one should never stop learning. One of his favorite sayings was, “Listen close and study hard.”
Doug was given the opportunity to travel the world through his job. He traveled all over the United States, and also to Europe, Mexico, and Canada. Everywhere he went, he touched people’s lives. He always was happiest when he came back to his home on the Crystal River in Waupaca, Wisconsin. He loved being able to view all of nature’s beauty by glancing out his window to his backyard. He never wanted to live anywhere else. Reading was one of Doug’s favorite pastimes while he was traveling. He loved to read not just for knowledge, but for fun. His favorite author was John Grisham. He owned and read every book he had ever written; as well as books by a wide range of other authors. Often times during the summer months, he would take time to ride his Harley Davidson motorcycle. His words were, “If it isn’t a Harley, then it isn’t a motorcycle.”
Doug considered the most important thing in his life to be his family. He was the youngest of ten children, and he always looked up to his older brothers and sisters. They were a very important part of his life, and he made it a point to stay in contact with them throughout the years. Doug was a devoted and loving father who sacrificed many things for his children’s happiness and well-being. He gave his life, because as he would put it, “Every minute you spend working for your paycheck is part of your life you will never get back.” He did his best to balance his time between work and family. According to Doug, “Without family, what is life worth living for?”
Doug is survived by his two children, Jennifer (Josue) Shanak of Waupaca, WI, and Joseph Shanak of Madison, WI; three grandchildren, Adam Nehring, and Keondra & Jonathan Velazquez of Waupaca, WI; his twin brother. Dwight (June) Shanak of Waupaca; two older brothers, George (Betty) Shanak of Wausau, WI, and Edward Shanak of Waupaca, WI; three sisters, Nathalie Miller of Norfolk, VA; Janet Shanak of Waupaca, WI; Joyce (John) Flies of Granger, IA; two sisters-in-law, Mary Shanak of Waupaca, WI, and Susan Abbott of Stevens Point, WI; and three honorary brothers, Nick Blohm of Waupaca, WI, Steve Blohm of Kiel, WI, Mark Blohm of North Dakota. He is also, survived by several nieces and nephews. Doug will also be greatly missed by his fiancée Carol Chadwick of Oregon. Doug is preceded in death by his parents, Mike and Virginia Shanak Jr.; brothers, Duane Shanak, Michael Shanak III, Robert (Bob) Shanak; and a niece, Andrea Abbott.
The Funeral Service will be held Monday at 10:30 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church in Waupaca with Rev. Andy Behrendt officiating. Visitation will be Sunday from 3 – 8 p.m. at the church. Holly Funeral Home assisted the family with arrangements.