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Faces Behind the Numbers: Brandon Shane

Brandon Shane, president of VisionCon who died of COVID-19 in 2021.
Valerie and Phil Shane
Brandon Shane, president of VisionCon who died of COVID-19 in 2021.

The 31-year-old president of VisionCon died of COVID-19 on June 2, 2021. He left behind a loving family, a fiance and many friends.

Brandon Shane was a son who gave amazing hugs, a brother who teased his sister but would never let anyone else do so and a friend to many, according to his parents. He was just 31-years-old when he died of COVID-19 on June 2, 2021.

Brandon was born on March 25, 1990, and his mom and dad Phil and Valerie Shane became first time parents.

"He was my baby boy. We were very very close and very — I miss him a lot," his mom Valerie said.

A young Brandon Shane holds a kitten. He loved animals.
Valerie and Phil Shane
A young Brandon Shane holds a kitten. He loved animals.

His parents said young Brandon was a happy child and always busy. And he loved people.

When he got to high school at Central High School in Springfield, he tried several activities including wrestling, track and golf. He was also in football and band and juggled both with ease.

"At times he would run off the field, throw his shoulder pads down and grab the tuba and go out there and march the halftime show in his (football) pants and his jersey," said Phil. "You know, one of the craziest times was when — at the Missouri State Homecoming they didn't have the sousaphone back so he had to carry an actual tuba and walk with it the entire parade route."

Brandon Shane in Mighty Mites with his dad, Phillip.
Valerie and Phil Shane
Brandon Shane in Mighty Mites with his dad, Phillip.

Brandon was on the varsity teams for wrestling, football and golf at Central High School in Springfield and graduated from there in 2008.

When he wasn’t busy with sports and music, he loved playing video games and cosplay – dressing up as his favorite characters. As a freshman in high school he volunteered to be a gopher for VisionCon – an annual pop culture convention in Springfield – so he could get in for free.

That led to a role with VisionCon, and Brandon was eventually named president because of his dedication to the organization.

"They couldn't stop him. They would ask him to go sit down and take a break and he would say 'no.' He was just so excited excited about it and so enthralled with it that he just was everywhere," said Phil, "and even this last Con after he passed back in May...they had a cardboard cutout because the joke was always 'where's Brandon now?' so they moved him with his cardboard cutout."

Brandon worked hard to make VisionCon a success and was proud of the fact that the event raised money for charity. The VisionCon he led before his death raised $5000 for an area nonprofit.

His dad said Brandon was a leader and someone who could convince others to try new things. For instance, when he was a gopher, his friends volunteered, too, and several are on the board of VisionCon today.

The Shane Family: Phillip, Valerie, Erica and Brandon
Valerie and Phil Shane
The Shane Family: Phillip, Valerie, Erica and Brandon

Brandon was working for his dad’s company, Priority Pest Control, when he passed away last June. Going into work now can be difficult for Phil but it also allows him to remember good times.

“He’d been working for us for the past nine years – almost ten years — prior to his passing, which makes it even more difficult. You know, it’s one of those things, too, where I still have things every day that remind me. Every day that I go to work I put on a red shirt — so did he and it's one of those things that's not a bad thing some days and some days it is."

Brandon was outgoing and had many friends. His parents said they didn’t realize how many until after he died. They said he would do anything for them.

"The number of people that came up to us and said that he was their best friend — so he was everybody's best friend," said Valerie. Everybody loved him. He was just — he was one of those people that would give you the shirt off his back and not go on and say anything else about it. There were so many stories that came out after he passed that it's like, 'he did what?'

"He had one friend that was suffering from depression, and he (Brandon) broke his door down and went in and sat with him until he got some help and possibly saved his life. I'm not sure about that," said Phil. "He never said a word. He just cared about people."

When the pandemic forced people to stay home, Brandon started video game leagues online so his friends could continue to have contact with others.

After Brandon’s death, the visitation was four hours long with lines out the door. Around 600 people came to pay their respects and talk about what Brandon meant to them. His parents were asked to livestream the funeral so people he had grown to know from other states could watch.

Those who attended were asked to dress as their favorite characters. His pallbearers included two Power Rangers and a man in a kilt.

"It would have made him happy to that, and, you know, the different articles of people — 'do you mind if we put this in there with him? Do you mind' — he probably had an extra 10 pounds of stuff that went with him that people kept bringing, and a lot of the stuff we didn't understand, but it meant something to them and it would've meant something to him," said Phil.

When Brandon got sick, his illness progressed quickly. He was only in the hospital three days.

"We had another set of friends that actually...they lived down the street from us when he was born and walked us out of the hospital the day he was born and videotaped us, you know, taking him out and everything," said Valerie. "They met us at the hospital and walked us out of the hospital when he died."

Brandon’s parents miss him terribly, and the holidays are the hardest. Thanksgiving was one of his favorite holidays. Valerie always made homemade rolls, and she would snap a picture of them and send it to Brandon. Not being able to send that picture now is hard.

But Brandon’s friends check in on the Shanes, and they remain close to the love of his life who he was planning to marry. They consider her another daughter. And they continue to get help from Lost and Found Grief Center.

"This is always helpful," said Phil. "When we get a chance to say his name, Brandon — he was my son and we miss him greatly — it is a positive thing."

Brandon’s legacy continues through his friends, his family and VisionCon. He recently had an award named for him. The Brandon Shane Pop Culture Icon Award is handed out each year during Geekmas described as a “nerdy, geeky holiday event.”

Brandon’s parents said the world lost a very special person last year.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.