Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

Nancy D. Shaffer Linnell 1955 ~ 2016

Swan Song


Nancy D. Shaffer Linnell 1955 ~ 2016

POTOMAC –  Nancy D. Shaffer Linnell was born Jan. 11, 1955, to Robert and Donna Shaffer in Devils Lake, N.D. She was the sixth child of 13.

As a young child she moved with her family to Missoula. In 1965 the family bought a neighborhood grocery store on the Northside. Nancy attended Whittier Grade School and graduated from Hellgate High School. During her school years when the neighborhood parks were in full swing, she enjoyed and excelled in fast pitch, ping pong, horseshoes and tether ball, activities she enjoyed throughout her life.

In her teen years she began working at Shaffer's Market and worked there off and on, until they closed the store in 1991. In 1979 in Seeley Lake she met the love of her life, Bill Linnell. They were married Oct. 17, 1980. They spent several years traveling while Bill worked fiber optic construction. In 1984 they had their first child, Jared Robert William.

In 1986 she decided to pursue a degree in elementary education and later received her master's degree, both of which had been lifelong goals of hers.

In 1986 they had their second child, Brady Clark, followed by Marcus Emery in 1989. In 1991 she graduated from the University of Montana.

She started her career in education at Star School outside of Browning, Mont. She taught there for two years. In 1994 they moved back to Missoula, at which time they had their first girl and last child, Kady Shaffer.

In the fall of 1994 she began her first of 21 years of teaching at Potomac Elementary School. In addition to teaching kindergarten and middle school language arts, she was involved in many ventures including assistant track coach, librarian and union negotiator. She also brought many activities including Shakespeare in the School, Dr. Seuss Day, Poet in Residence, Poetry Out Loud, the Book Fair and a book club to the Potomac Valley. Nancy cherished the relationships she built with the students, faculty and the entire Potomac community.

She was an avid reader, writer and lover of poetry. She became involved with the Montana Writing Project, in which she was published.

The most important part of Nancy's life was her family. She instituted weekly family dinners at her mother's house, with her children, nieces, nephews, sisters, brothers and family friends. Some of her favorite activities with her family included silly sister trips, road trips, camping, board games, yard saling, coloring and movie days. Any day spent with her family was a good one. She established and maintained unique relationships with her mom, siblings, nieces and nephews. She showed a genuine interest in all of their lives and was always there to listen, encourage and help when needed. Nancy was often described as the glue that held our family together and we will dearly miss her.

Nancy was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the fall of 2014. In June of 2016 she began hospice care in her childhood home and July 9 she passed away. She was preceded in death by: her parents; brothers Bill, Kent and Pat; sister Barbara; son Brady; sisters-in-law Sybil Shaffer and Christine Lipscy; and brother-in-law Mike Robinson.

She is survived by her loving husband Bill; children Jared, Marcus and Kady; siblings, Mike, Linda (Mike) Booth, Curt (Jane), Brent, Clark, Brad (Lisa), Joan Shaffer-Robinson and Mary Kay (Tim) Howard; and numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.

Memorial services were held at the Potomac Community Center at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 16. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Nancy's name to Potomac School or Missoula Community Theatre.


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