“The reason that Boca Grande suits me so much is because I grew up in a fishing village,” Jane said. “Our front yard was water, and the backyard was a railroad track. The track there is now a bike path.” She continued. “We grew up without a car, because my dad had a boat, so we walked everywhere. I think that’s another reason that I’m so comfortable here. I can either just walk or get on my bike and everything is in reach. There is certainly no need for a car living downtown with everything right here.”
Jane was the second of six children, five girls and one boy. Her mother stayed home to shepherd the lot while her father worked on the water. Her mother’s original plan was to become a physical education teacher, as she was an excellent athlete from a family of athletes. Jane’s mother was one of thirteen children, two of whom went on to play professional football.
“One uncle played for the old Providence Steamrollers of the NFL, and my other uncle was a fullback for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League,” Jane said.
Her mother’s dream of teaching was halted when she met Jane’s father.
It comes as no surprise that Jane is herself an active sportswoman. She attended the Katharine Gibbs School to study business and worked for several years in the business community, but her love is tennis, which she has played since she was a child.
Actually, her real love is Phil. It was a nice touch, though, that he was a tennis pro in the Rhode Island/Massachusetts area when the two met.
Together, they bought the Pond View Racquet and Croquet Club in Westerly, R.I., and have spent the last 25 years running it. They are hoping to spend more time on the island in the future, though, and are training one of their two daughters to take over the family business.
“It’s time to pass it to the young bucks,” she laughed. “Our daughter, Sage, played tennis in college, and she will probably be the one to take over. We look forward to more time in Boca.”Jennifer, the Shanley’s other daughter, is also in Westerly, R.I., running a shelter and helping those in need.
The Shanleys have three grandsons. Two are carrying on the family tradition of athleticism in the public school arena in Rhode Island, and the third is attending a college prep school in Connecticut.
Jane and her husband came to Florida, surprisingly enough, because of tennis. The pair worked seasonally at the Manasota Beach Club in Englewood for several years. Jane taught six-wicket croquet, and Phil was the tennis pro. They came to Gasparilla Island on their days off to bike, and grew to love the island.
"We could only dream that someday we could be a part of it,” said Jane.
In 2009 the dream came true when they bought two units of “Hotel H” from Hank Browne, and set to work combining them.
“When we got here in 2009, and bought these units from Hank Brown, people would ask where we lived,” she said. “When I told them ‘Hotel H,’ and people would say, ‘Oh, I lived there!’ It went on and on like that for weeks. I was telling Phil that everyone I met had slept in our new home, and we should have a pajama party reunion for all of them. Hank really saved this building, and I’m so glad. If my walls could talk, the history they have seen.”
Jane has, of course, become involved in the local tennis community since moving onto the island. She recently competed in the Gasparilla Island Tennis Classic.
“I have to give credit where credit is due, and that is to my very strong partners,” she said.
For mixed doubles, she paired with Tim Dumas.
“He carried us to two championships in 2010 and 2011,” she said. “This year we were runners up; we didn’t manage a three-peat. But we will regroup, and we will be back.”
In ladies doubles, Jane and her partner, Marion Mariner, daughter of long-time island resident Louise “Loulie” Mauran, won the championship.
“We all had a great time, and it was wonderful to see so many people come out for the championship,” she said. “At the women’s match, there may have been 75 people in the audience at the (Boca Bay) Pass Club. That’s a very enthusiastic tennis club. Mark and Jinx Horan, the pros at the Gasparilla Inn, do a fine, fine job in bringing all of us together there. They hosted the mixed doubles, and they also hosted the men’s doubles. There must have been 100 people there for the final on Sunday. It was really nice. It seems like tennis has got a good spot and a lot of fans here.”
When Jane is not playing tennis, she often plays croquet. Locally, she plays at the Gasparilla Inn courts under the watchful eye of Gasparilla Mallet Club President Blaine Davis.
“He really keeps us on our toes. We stay at the top of our game,” she smiled.
And, to round out her schedule, she plays horseshoes on Friday nights.
“Another thing that makes me feel so at home here are the games,” she said. “The first Friday night I was here, I heard that clang, the sound of the horseshoes. For years growing up, we played horseshoes in the yard on the weekends. I knew the sound from my childhood. It just reminds me of home. They are very warm and friendly.”
Sports have helped them make more friends on the island.
“This seems like a big football town, I’ve met a lot of fine people through football,” she said. “Some of our dear friends on the island are Ted and Susan Hoopes, and for the last couple of years the Pittsburg Stealers have done fine so they’ve had the best football parties. They have been kind enough to invite Phil and me, even though we’re staunch Patriots fans.
“Though after this last season … ”
Her goal is to become more involved with community events as her duties at Pond View wind down.
“I hesitate to volunteer, because I spend so much time traveling,” she said. “I’m back and forth all the time, running the club right now. My goal is to see a little more retirement time, and then my door is open.
Wherever I can be useful, I’ll be more than happy to help out in any capacity.”
Jane is impressed by the support of townsfolk for local businesses.
“Given the choice between going downtown and picking up a gift or going online, you root for everyone to shop in town.”
Jane really does not watch much television other than sports. Given the choice, she would prefer to be lying on the beach with a good book or listening to Mozart’s symphonies. Her appreciation of art extends to island artists. Among her favorites are Linda Wolcott and the Alzamora sisters, Mariana and Grace.
She also loves the tempo of the island.
“The sun shines in the house first thing in the morning when I am waking up,” she said. “In the evening, the bells ring at five o’clock and the streets quiet down, then it’s time for sunset. It’s like I’m in paradise.”
But it’s not just the things on the island, or the businesses or the beaches, that Jane loves. On this island, Jane has found kindred spirits.
From the helpful staff at the Barnichol, to her friend Lucinda Sullivan, to the local fishing guides who remind her so much of her father, she feels as though she has come to find her second home.
“The generosity that people here show to complete strangers, it is wonderful,” exclaimed Jane.
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