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Obituary (MD): Mrs. Shirley (Richard Echard '55 & Thomas Cann '55)

Posted on 07/15/2018

Dr. Shirley Jean (Echard) Cann  (August 12, 1932 - July 4, 2018)

Shirley Jean (Echard) Cann, born in Peoria, Illinois, died Wednesday July 4th, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Shirley attended Manual High School, where she excelled in music, and married her high school sweetheart, Richard Dean Echard, at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel on June 5, 1955. She had by then earned a bachelor's degree in music from Knox College and a master's degree in music from New England Conservatory of Music. She went on to receive a Doctor of Musical Arts from The Catholic University of America after her husband died while stationed at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland. Shirley moved to Alexandria, Virginia, in 1969 to be near her brother's family, and eventually to Falls Church where she enjoyed many special friendships. After 42 years of working and raising her children, she married Captain Thomas P. Cann (USN, Ret.) a classmate (USNA '55) and friend of Richard Echard's in 2004, again at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel. Music was Shirley's life. She especially loved Mozart. She taught music at all levels, elementary through graduate school, most notably at Gettysburg College, the University of Virginia, George Mason University, and in Fairfax County, Virginia, public high schools for 19 years. She served as Director of Music/Organist in many Virginia churches, including Fort Meyer Old Post Chapel in Fort Meyer; Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Falls Church, where she spent 25 years; and at the Naval Air Test Center Chapel in Lexington Park, Maryland. She was a gifted pianist, organist, and vocalist whose performances included conducting the Massed Choir for Reformation Service at Washington Cathedral; director for the Gilbert and Sullivan production of Iolanthe at Georgetown University; conductor, Reston Chorale; conductor, American Guild of Organists Anniversary Concert; conductor, Philomela, a women's Chamber Consort; and performances at the Kennedy Center Opera House, White House, and as soloist at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. Shirley's professional affiliations included the American Choral Directors Association, (past president in Virginia), The National Association for Music Education (formerly MENC, district chair and secretary), Virginia Music Educators Association, and American Guild of Organists. In addition to her life of music, Shirley was a devoted wife, sister, mother and grandmother, who loved caring for dogs- hers and others' - and was happiest when she was strolling North Beach on Seabrook Island in South Carolina. Shirley was a patient and gentle teacher and had many piano and voice students over the years whom she considered family. Her exemplary standards extended to all facets of her life, and her fierce independence belied her loyalty and deep abiding love of everyone in her family circle. She is preceded in death by her parents, Lucille and James Hardin, Richard Dean Echard (September 19, 1964), brother Dale W. Hardin (September 4, 2014) and Thomas P. Cann (August 12, 2017). Shirley is survived by her children Alison Dale Vallejo (Fred), Richard Porter Echard, grandchildren Margaret Lord Vallejo, and Mathew Hardin Vallejo, sister-in-law Sandra Hardin of Texas, and Thomas Cann's children Carolyn P. Casey (Dan) and Thomas P. Cann, Jr. (Linda) of Maryland. Services will be held at Annapolis Evangelical Lutheran Church (38 W Central Avenue, Edgewater, MD 21037) in conjunction with interment at Arlington National Cemetery at a date to be determined. To share remembrances with Shirley's family, and for further information, please go to The family respectfully encourages friends to consider a donation to The Alzheimer's Association in Shirley's memory. Special thanks are due to the many friends and family who provided tender loving support and care in her final years, especially Carolyn Cann and John Molineaux, Margaret Vallejo, the compassionate nurses and aides with Brighton Hospice, and the Generations staff of The Ridge at Foothill.

Published in The Capital Gazette on July 15, 2018

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