Mary Shasho Remembered with #CSMLove on Her Birthday, Feb. 27
A local businessman has established two scholarships at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) in honor of his late wife, Mary Shasho, a woman he describes as “gentle.” She is remembered as a habitual volunteer and an enthusiastic supporter of all levels of Scouting.
Harry Shasho of Shasho Consulting, a Southern Maryland commercial real estate brokerage, pledged $25,000 to create both the Mary I. Shasho Memorial Annual Scholarship and the Mary I. Shasho Memorial Endowed Scholarship at CSM. These scholarships will support residents in the tri-county region who are studying in the field of criminal justice. The annual scholarship will be awarded to CSM students for the first time this coming fall. In awarding the scholarships, a preference will be given to veterans and to students who have been a part of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office Explorers program.
It is this latter preference that is the direct connection to Mary, who helped start the Charles County Sheriff’s Explorer Unit 1658 in 1986. The Explorers are a senior Boy Scout unit for teenagers, Harry said, and Mary worked with the program for about 10 years.
Harry wanted the scholarship to make that connection, if possible, “since that was one of the things she liked the most,” he said.
Mary died in 2014. She and Harry had been married for 42 years. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m still married,” he said during a phone interview this month. Mary would have been 65 this week on her birthday, Feb. 27.
The Shashos’ son, Chris Shasho of La Plata, was too young to be in his mother’s Explorer program. But he remembers going to many of the events with her and how all the Explorer members would visit the house and confide in his mother. “Everybody just kind of gravitated toward her,” Chris said. “Everybody loved her there. They all treated her like she was their mom.”
Both Chris and Harry remember Mary participating in the role-playing scenarios that are part of the Explorer training. “She would get in to the roles so much,” Chris said. “She loved doing it and loved getting involved.”
Jeff Holter, a 27-year police officer with the Charles County Police Department, also remembers those scenarios and Mary’s part in them. “I was one of the original group that started the Explorer post in Charles County,” Holter said. In addition, he said he was the first Explorer hired in Charles County as a corrections officer in 1989.
“When the Explorers first started, it was Cpl. [Jerry] Torres and Mary Shasho running the post. … Jerry being a police officer had a quasi-military approach. Where Mary was the lighter side and understood kids and young adults,” Holter said. “Mary was easy to talk to and guided the post. I could tell Mary had a heart for young people and wanted to help them succeed.”
Mary went far beyond just helping with the post. She continued to assist the young people as they moved into the next phase of their lives, Holter said. “Personally, Mary was an important influence on two fronts. She convinced me to apply to Charles County instead of other jurisdictions, and I believe she heavily influenced the then-Sheriff Jim Gartland to take a chance and hire me. I truly believe she was the key in the start of my career. I know Mary went on to influence many others who moved on in their law enforcement careers as well as keeping the Explorer post moving forward.”
Mary grew up in Washington, D.C. “Mary always had an affinity for law enforcement,” Harry said. “Her father, Joseph DeNaves, was a guard at a D.C. jail.”
She and Harry were married in 1973 and moved to Charles County in 1976. There, they raised their two children. Both Mary and Harry worked in the commercial real estate business. “She really helped a lot of people in real estate,” Harry said. “She wouldn’t let go [when helping a client]. She was very gentle, but tenacious.” But family and work weren’t the only focus of their lives. Their Catholic faith was important, too, Harry said. “Absolutely. We went to church every Sunday.” And that faith was at least part of the motivation for her life of service, he said.
“Mary, basically, was a full-time volunteer,” Harry said, laughing. “She’s helped pretty much any organization you can think of.” She worked with the homeless, Lifestyles, Explorers, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Kiwanis, and assisted with the Charles County Chamber of Commerce, among other groups. The Explorers were a group she particularly enjoyed.
Both of the Shashos’ children work in the family business. Chris is the office manager and an agent. Teresa Shasho Clark, the Shashos’ daughter, attended the College of Southern Maryland, where she earned the Dean’s Cup and went on to graduate from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She now uses her background in banking and mortgage officer experience to assist the Shasho business. Harry and Mary have four grandchildren.
For information on donating to these scholarships or creating your own scholarship at the College of Southern Maryland, visit http://foundation.csmd.edu/.
CSM Scholarship Finder now open. CSM students who would like to apply for scholarship funding for the 2017-2018 academic year can now apply online using the Scholarship Finder, which opened Feb. 20. Some scholarships have a March 31 priority deadline; however, most scholarships have a May 31 deadline. Students applying for CSM Foundation Scholarships are required to complete a 2017-2018 FAFSA application, which ensures students are automatically considered for all relevant scholarships. For more information and to submit an application, go to www.csmd.edu/ScholarshipFinder.