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Dr. Gwynn Shamlin
Dr. Gwynn Lance Shamlin, Sr. departed this life for the loving arms of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on May 8, 2020 after 82 years of bountiful life marked by accomplishment, leadership, service, love and devotion to God and family. Born May 9, 1938 in Monroe, LA, to the union of Leon and Alberta Calhoun Shamlin, he was the youngest of nine children growing up in a God-fearing, southern Baptist farming family. His family instilled strong Christian values and a strong work ethic. As a result, Dr. Shamlin accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior at the age of eight. He was baptized at Union Baptist Church in Bosco, LA.
Dr. Shamlin received his early education in Ouachita Parish Schools in Monroe, Louisiana. He graduated from Richwood High School in 1955 where he was an honor student and star basketball player. He would often joke about his claim to fame. His team won a Louisiana State Championship in which they were the better of only two teams. Education was a cornerstone of life for the Shamlin family. Dr. Shamlin often spoke of the sacrifices and dedication his family made while working on their seventy-acre farm to guarantee educational opportunities. His father was a trailblazer, becoming the first African American to run for school board member in Ouachita Parish. Dr. Shamlin followed his older siblings to Southern University A&M College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he completed a Bachelor of Arts in Education in 1959. He also completed his Master's Degree in Supervision and Administration and plus 30 graduate hours from Southern University in 1967. A trailblazer like his father, he was one of the first African American males to receive his Doctoral Degree in Education from Louisiana State University in 1976 and his certification as a school superintendent in 1977. Dr. Shamlin began his education career in 1966 as a fifth grade teacher in East Baton Rouge Parish public schools. His hard work led to promotion and an appointment as principal at Mayfair Elementary School from 1971 to 1976. He was promoted to Area Director of Schools in 1976. In his later professional years, he served as Executive Director of Counseling and Intervention. He retired from East Baton Rouge Parish Schools as Executive Director of Child Welfare and Attendance in 2004.
While pursuing his college education, Dr. Shamlin also served his country in the United States Army. He was honorably discharged in 1965 with the rank of Sergeant following six years of service. It was while he matriculated at Southern University that Dr. Shamlin met and married the Reverend Brunetta Shamlin. The couple was married in 1965, and they became the proud parents of four children, Gwynn II, Kenyatta, Tasha and Marc. Dr. Shamlin instilled a spirit of excellence in his children and in those that he touched through education. He will always be remembered by the many people he nurtured and touched throughout his career as an educator.
Dr. Shamlin was also an educator and leader in the church throughout his life. He proudly served in numerous roles, including Superintendent of the Sunday School, founder of the Summer Bible Vacation School, and Director of the Afterschool Tutorial Program at Neely United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge. He followed his wife through her various ministerial appointments, and eventually joined Hope Community United Methodist Church where he worked in the Summer Tutorial Program and served as church trustee. He remained a member of Hope Community United Methodist Church until his death. Dr. Shamlin was also very civic and community-minded. He served as President of the Staring Lane Neighborhood Association, advocating for property owners and valuation. He also touched his community through service programs as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Throughout his career and personal life, Dr. Shamlin answered Jesus' call to "Feed my sheep" (John 21:17) both literally and figuratively. He maintained his childhood love of farming and cultivated acres of farmland at his family home on Staring Lane. He grew numerous fruits and vegetables and gave away bountiful baskets of produce to family, friends, and those in need. Everyone who visited the Shamlin family home looked forward to the feast Dr. Shamlin would prepare and serve. By God's grace, food was always plentiful, and there was always room at the table for one more. His love for gardening was only put aside for his love for caring for his grandchildren. Dr. Shamlin would often say although he was no longer cultivating his gardens, he was focused on planting Godly seeds of wisdom in the hearts, souls and minds of his grandchildren.
Dr. Shamlin was preceded in death by his loving, inseparable wife of 55 years, the Reverend Brunetta Shamlin; his parents Leon T. and Alberta Calhoun Shamlin, and his siblings: brothers Leon, Felton and Vaudie A. Shamlin, and his sisters Fredessa Shamlin Payne, Iona Shamlin Williams, Vera Shamlin Johnson and Malvin Shamlin Smith. He leaves a living legacy of love and caring in his children: Gwynn Shamlin II, Esq. (Shilonda), Dr. Kenyatta Shamlin-Haynes (Shawn), Dr. Tasha Shamlin, and Marc Shamlin (Jennifer); his grandchildren: Gwynn Shamlin III (Tre'), Connor Shamlin, Londyn Haynes, Evelyn Haynes, and Lauren Gwyneth Haynes, and Brent Leggett, a grandchild by affection; one sister, Lenevia "Lynn" Shamlin Robinson, and a host of nieces, nephews, and other relatives.
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