Remembering Chuck Shandry

By on Feb 21, 2021 in Blog, Featured

This weekend, I learned of the sudden passing of Chuck Shandry, who contributed interviews to Wild Violet in our early days, and who was a fellow staffer at the annual anime and East Asian cultural convention, Otakon.

A man in a long black robe with a hat featuring horns.

Chuck Shandry as Tim from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” at an Otakon staff retreat

I met Chuck about 30 years ago, when I was an officer and newsletter editor for the Penn State Monty Python Society. He occasionally attended meetings, not performing in skits like the rest of us hams, but laughing in the audience and cheering us on. Nearly 20 years older than us, a Navy veteran, he genially turned down our offers to join us for a run to the College Diner after the meetings. Likewise, he seldom showed up for our weekend activities, such as the annual Upperclassman Twit-of-the-Year Run, or the spring Mall Climb. 

Since I was the newsletter editor, I tended to know most of the MPS members. After the meetings, Chuck would come up front to talk to us officers, and he soon discovered my love of music. He lent me some of his Bonzo Dog Doodah Band albums, my introduction to a band I would come to love so much that I randomly quote lines from the Bonzos to my family on a regular basis.

Through the MPS and the expanded interlocking circles of friends, however, Chuck found his true family.

Mutual friends of my MPS compatriots, four individuals forever known as the Four Fathers, founded Otakon, and Chuck, who shared a love of anime with them, enthusiastically volunteered from the earliest days of the convention. He worked Registration for most of his time there, and I spent a couple years on that staff working with him. Chuck could always be relied upon to show up on time and to stay as late as needed, usually wearing such iconic costume elements as a pair of wolf ears or a pith helmet.

A man in a black T-shirt, wearing wolf ears, and with a full set of gray muttonchops, sits on a chair, looking at the camera

Chuck Shandry at Otakon 2005

When a friend and I began Wild Violet in 2001, Chuck became one of our earliest supporters. He conducted several interviews for us of voice actors whom he met through Otakon, along with highly-entertaining and informative footnotes. 

Tiffany Grant (Frozen Karma, January 31, 2002)

Tristan MacAvery (Rising Sun, May 3, 2002)

George Manley (Vol. III Issue 2, Gourmet Snowflake)

Matt Greenfield (Vol. IV Issue I, Dream Zone)

Joe Grisaffi (Vol. IV Issue 3/4, Waking World) 

Since 2020 will forever be known as the year when the conventions didn’t happen, I can safely say that the last time I saw Chuck in person was at Otakon 2019. While these days I’m busy running the Press Relations Department, I chatted with him briefly in the hallway, as he headed to his usual assignment in Registration. In recent years, I’d often see him at the staff continental breakfast in one of the D.C. hotels, holding court at a table, where he cheerfully welcomed anyone who wanted to sit down and talk about the latest anime series, or reflect on Otakon lore.

To say he’ll be missed seems inadequate. For many, Chuck symbolized the heart of Otakon. That level of enthusiasm, coupled with pure joy for the art form, lies at the heart of everything that’s best about Otakon. And for me, personally, it’s sad and sobering to realize that Chuck, who participated in the parts of my life that became so important to me—from MPS to Wild Violet to Otakon—will no longer be there to share in the activities that brought us both so much happiness.



Chuck’s executor is raising the funds needed to cover funeral expenses. Please consider contributing.

 

 

About

Alyce Wilson is the editor of Wild Violet and in her copious spare time writes humor, non-fiction, fiction and poetry and infrequently keeps an online journal. Her first chapbook, Picturebook of the Martyrs; her e-book/pamphlet, Stay Out of the Bin! An Editor's Tips on Getting Published in Lit Mags ; her book of essays and columns, The Art of Life; her humorous nonfiction ebook, Dedicated Idiocy: How Monty Python Fandom Changed My Life, and her newest poetry collection, Owning the Ghosts, can all be ordered from her Web site, AlyceWilson.com. In late 2019, she published a volume of poetry by her third great-grandfather, Reading's Physician Poet: Poems by Dr. James Meredith Mathews, which also contains genealogical information about the Mathews family. She lives with her husband and son in the Philadelphia area and takes far too many photos of her handsome, creative son, nicknamed Kung Fu Panda.

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