By Paul Thompson
September 21, 2016
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Judge Charles Shangler, the former Director of the Northeast Community Center and founder of charter school Scuola Vita Nuova, passed away on Saturday, September 17, at the age of 93 years old.
Shangler served as a judge in the Missouri Court of Appeals for more than 20 years before his retirement in August of 1993. He officially took over as the Director of the Northeast Community Center after his retirement, but as son-in-law of founder Dr. John Bisceglia, Shangler held a vital role with the community center long before.
“He was the community center,” said current Northeast Community Center Executive Director Laura Shultz. “When his father-in-law died and he took over, he was coming close to retiring from the bench himself. He took on the community center with a vengeance, and he just revitalized the entire campus.”
Under Shangler’s stewardship, the Northeast community center created the Scuola Vita Nuova charter school in 1999. While the school was originally housed at the community center, it has since expanded and moved to a new location at 535 Garfield.
Shultz said that especially during the school’s early years, Shangler was a constant fixture on campus.
“He would do everything from serving food in the cafeteria to teaching Italian at the school,” she said. “He was an extraordinary man. He didn’t have his own children, but oh my gosh, he changed the lives of so many children in this neighborhood.”
Scuola Vita Nuova principal Nicole Goodman has been with the school for roughly seven years. She said the even as Shangler’s health declined, he continued to play a major role at the school.
“He was very active and involved,” said Goodman. “Even when he wasn’t able to visit as much, we were always emailing each other. It was fun to get his communications; he was funny.”
Goodman said that Shangler remained beloved by the student body throughout her tenure at SVN. She added that he was perpetually concerned about the best interests of the children who attended the school.
“To provide a quality education to all kids was, I know, very important to him,” said Goodman. “I just want to make sure that I continue that. He gave everything; his heart, his soul, and of course, he invested personally in this community and in this school. He inspires me.”
“The man gave away every penny he had to anybody who needed it. He was just absolutely selfless in that way,” added Shultz. “His spirit was just unbelievable, right up until the last minute, actually. He just lived life to the fullest.”
Shangler also played a major role in getting the Northeast Community Center signed on as an affiliate of Harmony Project, a free after-school music program designed to enhance learning capabilities in all participating students. Shangler attended a June 26 musical performance by Harmony Project KC students at the Kansas City Museum, and was given a front row seat for the concert.
Shultz said that the Harmony Project KC performance had a profound affect on Shangler.
“He was absolutely thrilled; he talked about it every day for weeks afterwards,” said Shultz. “He said that it was everything he wanted.”
According to Shangler’s obituary, published by Mount Moriah Funeral Home, he was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Tony and Sal, sister Lily and wife Kay. He is survived by his sister Francis and many nieces, nephews and extended family.
The obituary goes on to state that visitation will be at Mount Moriah (10507 Holmes, Kansas City, Missouri 64131) on Saturday September 24, beginning at 12:00 p.m. Services will follow at 1:00 p.m., and a reception will be held at 2:00 p.m. at the funeral home. Private interment to be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Northeast Community Center, 544 Wabash, K.C. MO 64124 in honor of Charles’ continued work in the community.
To read Mount Moriah’s obituary for Judge Charles Shangler in full, follow the link.