George Edgar Shankel

1894 - 1976

Win Sally Osborn Shankel 

 1893 - 1978

George Edgar Shankel served as an educator and administrator for 47 years in Seventh-day Adventist higher education in Canada, Africa, the United States, and Jamaica, West Indies. His wife, Win Osborn, and their daughter, Virginia-Gene Rittenhouse, both made outstanding contributions in SDA music for over eighty years.

George was born in Hubbards Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada, on August 24, 1898, one of six children of Stewart Wilson and Eva Jeanette Hubley Shankel. The family moved to Leduc, Alberta, in 1908 so that the children could attend Alberta Industrial Academy, later Canadian Junior College, and now Burman University. George graduated from CJC and Walla Walla College, now University, returning to teach at CJC to teach English from 1921 to 1925.

Before his return to CJC, he had married Win Osborn, in Seattle, Washington, on June 17, 1919. Win had been born in Haines, Oregon, on December 15, 1893. Following completion of high school in Portland, she attended the Oregon Agricultural College, now Oregon State College, and the Oregon State Normal School. In 1917 she began her career teaching art and elocution (speech) at WWC. Two years later, she married George Shankel, a college student.  After his graduation in 1920, they moved to Canada, where he taught English and served as head of the department at CJC for five years.

The Shankels went to Cape Town, South Africa, in 1925, where he taught English and history and she taught music at Helderberg College. He became president of the college in 1936, after he had completed a master's degree in history at the University of Washington during a furlough in 1931-32. They returned to WWC in 1944, where he taught in the history department for two years and continued work on a doctorate at the University of Washington.

During this time, their daughter, Virginia-Gene, a young but very accomplished violinist, began her teaching career in the WWC music department. In 1946 the family moved to Atlantic Union College, where Shankel who had completed his doctorate, served as academic dean and professor of history. During his eight-year tenure in those positions, both Win and Virginia-Gene taught music at the college.

Mother and daughter were inseparable then, and in subsequent years the family remained close after Virginia-Gene's marriage in 1950 to Harvey Rittenhouse, an accomplished cellist and later a physician. When George accepted a two-year position at West Indies College in 1954, and then returned there in 1961, following his retirement from teaching and an adminstrative position at Southern Missionary College, now Southern Adventist University, the family accompanied him. He authored God and Man (Southern Publishing 1966). Win would also teach music when her husband worked at West Indies College.

They returned to South Lancaster, Massachusetts, in 1964. When Virginia-Gene started the New England Youth Ensemble five years later, George helped plan its tours and traveled with them until the time of his death on August 24, 1976, at age 82, in an automobile accident. Win was a familiar figure during NEYE tours. To her former students and members of the ensemble, she was affectionately known as "Mom Shankel." She was living with Virginia-Gene and Harvey when she died in Stoneham, Massachusetts, on February 8, 1978, at age 84.


Sources: Obituary, George Edgar Shankel, Review and Herald, 10 March 1977, 23; Obituary, Win O. Shankel, R&H, 11 May 1978, 23; African Division Outlook, 5 December 1929, 27 October 1930, 6; Southern African Division Outlook, 15 July 1935; Atlantic Union Gleaner, 30 August 1946, 5; Eva Jeanette Shankel obituary, Canadian Union Messenger, January 6, 1948, 8. See Virginia-Gene Rittenhouse biography for additional information.