Headwaters Has Lost a Faithful Friend

Jay Shaner, Jan 15, 1942-Nov 12, 2020

Jay leading HMN Wildflower Walks at North River Gorge. Photo by Lynn Cameron.

I am very sad to share the news that Headwaters has lost a faithful friend. Many of us have wonderful memories of Jay and know that he was one of a kind. I hope that he is walking flower-lined pathways now, free from pain and struggling.

– Elaine Smith

HMN bids farewell to a longtime friend and inspiration. Jay Shaner probably knew wildflowers in the Blue Ridge-Allegheny region of Virginia and West Virginia better than anyone else. Not only could he identify flowers and other native plants, but he knew where they grew and exactly when they bloomed. He had a special love for shale barren plants and the many varieties of trilliums, though he appreciated all wildflowers, even the ones that are not as glamorous.

Jay led HMN Wildflower Walks since they began in 2014. HMN leaders would always go with Jay to check out the wildflowers a few days ahead. Jay would say, “We are going to find the flowers and identify them and then move on. We are not going to conduct a service over each one.”

Jay’s career was in timber procurement, which gave him an opportunity to drive all over Virginia and West Virginia. Perhaps this is how he developed his extensive knowledge. He could spot and identify a wildflower while driving down the road at 60 miles per hour. He took many of us to see shale barrens and led a special shale barren field trip to Allegheny, Bath, Augusta, and Botetourt counties for HMN in 2019.

Jay also had a special love for the annual Webster County Nature Tour at Camp Caesar in WV. He led a wildflower walk at the gathering every year for decades and thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship of kindred spirits.

Jay contributed to the Flora of Virginia since he knew locations for some of the rare flowers. Many of us would call on Jay if we had questions about wildflowers. He was the authority. It was often said that you should not argue with Jay because he was always right. We learned all we could from Jay, but his vast amount of knowledge is truly irreplaceable.

Jacob Francis “Jay” Shaner, Jr. Obituary

By Lynn and Malcolm Cameron

Jay leading HMN Wildflower Walks at North River Gorge.
Photo by Lynn Cameron