Applegate, Shannon

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Applegate, Shannon

PERSONAL: Daughter of Rex Applegate (deceased); children: six.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Thunder's Mouth Press, 245 W. 17th St., 11th Fl., New York, NY 10011-5300.

CAREER: Writer, lecturer, teacher, and historian. Applegate Pioneer Cemetery, sexton, Yoncalla, OR, 1997–. Chair of Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries. Also worked as a museum director, arts programs coordinator, historical properties manager, and chef.

AWARDS, HONORS: National literary award, Coordinated Council of Literary Magazines, 1977; selection among Oregon's Best 100 Literary Works, 1800–2000, for Skookum: An Oregon Pioneer Family's History and Lore.


Skookum: An Oregon Pioneer Family's History and Lore, Beech Tree Books (New York, NY), 1988.

(Editor, with Terence O'Donnell) Talking on Paper: An Anthology of Oregon Letters and Diaries, Oregon State University Press (Corvallis, OR), 1994.

Living among Headstones: Life in a Country Cemetery (memoir), Thunder's Mouth Press (New York, NY) 2005.

Contributor of essays to book and periodicals. Work included in anthology The Stories That Shape Us, Norton, 1995.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Minus Tides, a novel.

SIDELIGHTS: Shannon Applegate was working as a writer, historian, and writing teacher when she inherited the position of sexton at the Applegate Pioneer Cemetery in Yoncalla, Oregon. The cemetery had been passed down through her family for generations, but her father had tried to get the city to take over after he retired so that Applegate would not have to inherit the responsibility and upkeep of the small cemetery. The city refused, and Applegate became sexton in 1997. Already a writer, Applegate saw much material for a book in the little cemetery. She learned about its upkeep and about the Yoncalla inhabitants who had ancestors buried there, and Living Among Headstones: Life in a Country Cemetery was the result.

The book ponders Applegate's family's past as well as the past and history of other Yoncalla families and residents. In addition, the book considers the symbolic meaning behind many funereal traditions, and reports on the modern issues that the cemetery faces on a daily basis. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that "what the author says about being a small-town sexton is fresh and interesting." Furthermore, Eugene Weekly contributor Molly Templeton called the author's writing "pragmatic and straightforward," noting that Applegate is "also deeply in touch with the emotions that she sets gently on the page, even through the stranger, sadder parts of her life as a cemetery sexton."



Applegate, Shannon, Living among Headstones: Life in a Country Cemetery, Thunder's Mouth Press (New York, NY), 2005.


Eugene Weekly, June 2, 2005, Molly Templeton, "An Unusual Responsibility: Living with Death in a Small Oregon Town."

Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2005, review of Living among Headstones, p. 393.

Oregonian, May 29, 2005, Joanna Rose, review of Living among Headstones.

Seattle Times, June 17, 2005, David Takami, review of Living among Headstones.


Oregon State University Press Web site, (October 19, 2005), author profile.