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She was her family's backbone

The woman who died in a crash on Ulmerton Road was a grandmother of eight. She was always taking care of others.

Published October 8, 2005

LARGO - As the heart of a large family, Joan Shook loved what her children and grandchildren loved, be it softball or go-cart racing or the Girl Scouts. She was always there, rooting for them.

"My mom put everyone else's needs before hers," said daughter Margaret Dickey, 44, of San Antonio, Texas. "She would give you whatever she had. ... She was the backbone of the family."

On Wednesday night, after dinner with one of her sons, Shook, 63, of Largo headed home. She was driving her Ford van east on Ulmerton Road about 8:55 p.m. when she turned left to go north on Coral Way, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

Just then, Wallace "Mike" Foster, 24, of Clearwater, crashed his 2003 Suzuki motorcycle into the passenger's side of the van and was thrown onto the road, Trooper Larry Coggins said.

Foster, who was wearing a motorcycle helmet, was pronounced dead at the scene. Shook, who was wearing her seat belt, was taken to Largo Medical Center, where she later died.

Troopers were still investigating the crash, but it appeared both people "shared responsibility," Coggins said.

"I know my mother would feel the pain for (Foster) and his young children," said daughter Jennifer Shook, 32, of Largo.

Foster, who owned a lawn and tree service, had a 2-year-old daughter named Ariana. His girlfriend is six months pregnant with his second child, a boy, to be named after him.

"Our heart and condolences go out to his family," Jennifer Shook said. "That unborn child will never know his father. ... My mother would just be beside herself about that."

That's just how Shook was, concerned and caring for others, her family said.

Born in Pennsylvania, Shook grew up in Clearwater, moved to St. Louis and then moved back. She had five children - two boys and three girls - and eight grandchildren. She worked part time at Country Hearth Bread store. In 2000, her husband of 40 years, Wally, died from cancer.

"But the job of caretaking was never over for her," Dickey said. "I don't think she ever lived by herself."

Shook lived with two nieces and her mother, Margaret, 84, whom she cared for. She was always giving people - and stray animals - a place to stay.

"We could always call her and she would give us advice," said daughter Donna Evans, 42, of St. Petersburg. "No matter what the problem was, no matter what decision we made, she'd always back us up."

Shook also loved to go to craft shows and made some of her own, including potholders and "boo-boo bunnies," a bunny-shaped washcloth that held ice cubes to soothe a child's bruises.

In addition to her three daughters, Shook is survived by two sons, Earl of Lyons, Kan., and Daniel of Tampa; her mother, Margaret Patton of Largo; a brother, Murray Patton of Port Richey; two sisters, Alice Valeski of Hudson and Pat Stump of Fort Myers; and eight grandchildren.

[Last modified October 8, 2005, 01:26:19]

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