Donley, 48, of Shepherdstown, WV, operated Fertile Plains Meats. He had been a vendor at the Wakefild Farmers Market, which operates Wednesdays in Wakefield Park in Annandale. He recently also opened a stand at the Wednesday Smart Market in Reston.
Donley was a seventh-generation farmer, according to an obituary in the Martinsburg (WV) Journal-News.
He was also a certified lay speaker at Bethesda United Methodist Church at Molers Crossroads, WV, and a parishioner of New Street United Methodist Church in Shepherdstown.
Donley was a member and Past Master of Mt. Nebo Lodge No. 91 A.F. & A.M., member and past president of the Jefferson County Farm Bureau, member and past president of Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board and assistant coach for Upward Basketball's Thundering Herd.
He is survived by his wife of 15 years, Rene; two young sons, Tyler and Trevor; his parents, Pat and Joel Stickler, and Sam and Lane Donley; two sisters, Diana Bello and husband, Arturo, and Elaine Oliver and husband, Mark; one brother, Samuel "Neil" Jackson Donley III and wife, Barbara; two stepsisters, Linda Nicodemus and Susan Stickler Ramey.
Annandale Patch profiled Fertile Plains Meats in an August 2011 story in which Donley spoke with pride about the variety of fresh meats he offered.
“I [don’t use] steroids, growth hormones, antibiotics, or animal products on my animals," he said. "Our food is fresh and not mass produced. We take more care, and it makes a big difference. Our animals are all outside, and if an animal gets sick, it is separated from the rest until it is well again.”
This past winter, there was a groundswell of support from other farmers and community members after Donley and Fertile Plains were not invited to return to the Reston Farmers Market (but they were offered a spot at Herndon and Wakefield. All three are overseen by Fairfax County).
That decision was made by county authorities after it was determined that a certain percentage of Fertile Plains' meats came from outside sources.
Donely appealed the decision, maintaining that all meat brought to the market was raised by him. The county later rescinded its decision.
Donley died two days before the Reston market's May 5 opening.
"We observed a moment of silence to remember Shannon Donley before we rang the bell to open the 2012 Reston Farmers Market on Saturday," said John Lovaas, the co-market master. "Shannon was a good man, and a valued member of our Market family for nine years. He will be missed."
Family will receive visitors from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, May 11, 2012, at Eackles-Spencer & Norton Funeral Home in Harpers Ferry, WV. A memorial life tribute will be held at noon Saturday, May 12, 2012, with visitation one and a half hours prior to services, at the Eackles-Spencer & Norton Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Shepherdstown Elementary Association (SEA), 662 S. Church St.Shepherdstown, WV 25443 or the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Dept., P.O. Box F, Shepherdstown, WV 25443.