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Saigon Kid Obituary: Sondra Shankey Ewell

Sondra Ann Shankey

The GECKO Year Book - 1960 - Sondra Ann Shankey is our Spanish-speaking friend; Such a pretty girl, an engineer, we cannot comprehend. We see instead for her ahead a modeling career; Or marriage to a rootin' tootin' Spanish buccaneer.

I am so very sorry to let the Saigon Kids know that Sondra Shankey Ewell passed away on Thursday, January 5. She leaves four wonderful kids and their families, her husband, Mel, and her sister Vicky Shankey Ouellette, who has been an extraordinary tower of strength and love throughout Sondra’s illness.

Sondra, Vicky, and I were very close friends in Saigon 59-61. Together we made a trip back a few years ago – I am very grateful that we had that chance. We also went to the Nashville reunion. Sondra loved seeing so many of you again then and having a chance to hear about your lives and adventures.

She was a funny, loving, warm, beautiful and generous person, my much beloved friend, and we will all miss her so much. Please keep Vicki and the rest of the family in your thoughts. – Christy Kent

Sondra S. Ewell Obituary

Sondra S. Ewell, of Pembroke, MA., born Oct. 30, 1944, in Boulder City, Nev., owner of Sondra’s Coffee Shoppe for a number of years, died Jan. 5, 2012, after a lengthy illness.

She was the daughter of the late Richard and Mona Shankey. She leaves her husband, Melvin Ewell of Pembroke; their four children, Vicki Goldberg and husband Richard of East Bridgewater, Michael Ewell and wife Laura of East Wareham, James Ewell of Pembroke and Elizabeth Ewell of Pembroke; four grandchildren, Logan and Brennan Ewell, Ariana and Austin Goldberg; a brother, Hugh Shankey of OceanSide, Calif.; a sister; Vicki Ouellette and husband Robert of Plymouth; as well as several nieces and nephews.

Visiting hours will be held at the Shepherd Funeral Home, 7 Mattakeesett St., Pembroke, Sunday, Jan. 8, from 4-8 p.m.

Her funeral Mass will be held at Saint Joseph the Worker Church, 1 Maquan St., Hanson, Monday, Jan. 9, at 10 a.m.

Interment will follow at the Center Cemetery in Pembroke.

In memory of Sondra, donations may be made to Make A Wish Foundation (, or to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (

For directions and online condolences, visit Shepherd Funeral Home.

[Click the *Send Message of Condolence* or *View Messages of Condolences* links located at the bottom of her obituary.]

The First and Last Time I Saw Sondra

by Frank Stoddard

About two hours after I arrived in Saigon, a group of girls came to our house. They came to welcome me, and possibly to check out the new guy on the block. Sondra was one of them. About two weeks later I was dating her sister Vicky. One of the places we used to go was the Alhambra Theater where we would sit in the top right back corner. Some of you might remember the spot. Never far from where Vicky and I were sitting would be Sondra and Mike Parker. (Does anyone remember a movie at the theater? Lol)

The Nashville Reunion had two music CD’s. One of the songs on a CD was “Sittin’ In The Balcony” by Eddie Cochran. The song was there for a reason. Whenever I hear that song, I always think of the Shankey sisters.

After graduating from Gonzaga Prep., I returned to Saigon for summer of ’62. One morning my father told me that the Shankeys would be flying in to Saigon that day. My G.I. friend Jim and I got to Tan Son Nhat just as their plane landed. It was one of those rare moments at the Saigon Airport that had laughter rather than tears. Mr. Shankey invited Jim and I to come on over to their house. I have a lasting good memory of Mr. Shankey because he was always so gracious to me and always gave me respect. He was one of those guys that always had time to stop and talk with me, a teenager..

Jim and I got on Jim’s Triumph and followed the Shankey Taxis to their house. Do you remember those torrential rains? Well one of those hit! I still remember Sondra and Vicky’s laughing faces through the wet windows of the taxi. When we got to the house, Mrs. Shankey made us some hot tea. I remember Sondra telling me (in spite of being a totally soaked) that I looked like I’d matured a lot in the year (plus) since I’d seen them. Sondra, like her family was always so pleasant to me. I think that she was also very “blunt”, which is something I really liked about her. For some reason when I saw Sondra at the Nashville reunion, she did not tell me I’d matured since the decades since we had seen each other! Perhaps when you are a teenager it is a compliment!! But seeing the three gals again after all those years was just plain cooool!

Shortly after the Nashville reunion, my wife and I flew to Boston. Christy met us at our hotel and we all jumped on the M.T.A. (Remember that song?) At the end of our stop, Sondra was waiting for us at the station. We all drove over to Vicky and Bob’s for an unbelievable lobster dinner. Sondra, Vicky and Christy (the Three Amigos) through their friendship with each other and their terrific outlook on live made the evening so fun! I do not remember what was said, but we all laughed a lot. So, the last time I saw Sondra is when she dropped us off at the train. We really never said goodbye. Maybe that is good.

We were planning to meet them at a Spanish restaurant the next night, but my wife became ill and we left for Arizona without saying goodbye.

I did not know Sondra’s husbands and kids, my thoughts go out to them. I do know Sondra’s BFF’s. My heartaches just with the thought of the emptiness and sorrow they must be going through.

Do you remember when Kids would request and dedicate a song at a dance or on the radio? Well, I would like to do this now. I want everyone to listen to the song by the Bee Gees called “Massachusetts” for Sondra. Ironically, this version was sung but a few miles from where she was born.

6 comments to Saigon Kid Obituary: Sondra Shankey Ewell

  • Kenneth R. Yeager

    This is indeed a terrible shock to those of us who knew Sondra. While not knowing her well, I did have the pleasure of her company one evening many, many years ago at one of our wonderful Saigon Kids parties in the ’60s. My thoughts and sympathies are for her husband and children and grandchildren. It is heartbreaking to read that our ranks are thinning, but at our age it is expected.

    Good Bye, Sondra.

  • Kenneth R. Yeager

    Frank, Really nice words and I am pretty sure Sondra and her family would appreciate them.

  • Suellen Oliver Campbell

    Both of the Shankey girls were friend of mine in Saigon and you wouldn’t want to have a party without them being there. Both were so kind and there was always laughter when you were around them.
    My condolences go out to Sondra’s husband, children and grandchildren. What a blessing for them to all be close together in order to support each other during the days ahead.
    My memories of Sondra are ones that I will continue to cherish.
    Saigon 58-60

  • Mike Parker

    Sondra was very special to me during our time in Saigon. I loved her very much. I really miss our times together and our times together with Vicki & Christy. She was special and will be missed.

    My condolences & prayers to her husband and all the members of her family.


  • Vicki (Ewell) Goldberg

    Thank you all so much for sharing these wonderful memories of my mother! She spoke fondly of her time in Siagon and all the amazing friends she made. Thank you again for your memory share.


  • frank

    Vicki, So sorry to hear about your Mom. You are named after a special person. A lot to live up to! The Shankeys are always held to a high spot in my mind. I do not know how many people influence a person in their lifetime, but I know your grandparents, mother and Aunt had a very big influence on me. Regards, Frank

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