Alan Shanks
Hooverson Funeral Home - Sauk City
251 Water St
Sauk City, WI

Shanks, Alan B.

MERRIMAC/BARABOO - Alan B. Shanks, age 81, former Sauk County sheriff and retired Wisconsin Emergency Management Director, gifted his beloved wife with his presence in their heavenly home on what would have been her 77th birthday on April 11, 2020. Al passed peacefully in Merrimac, in his home. He was born March 7, 1939, to the late James Stanley and Dorothy (Bissell) Shanks. Al graduated from Prairie du Sac High School, Class of 1957. Following high school, Al attended college courses in Minneapolis while working for Capital Airlines.

He returned to his hometown of Merrimac where he would own and operate a grocery store. It was there he met the love of his life, Cynthia G. Zielinski; they married Sept. 20, 1968. Together they raised their family in Merrimac, and Al soon took a deputy position with the Sauk County Sheriff's Department in 1972. Two years later Al made a bid for sheriff and was elected. He served the residents and Sauk County until 1986. During his tenure with the county he planned, developed and implemented the first State of Wisconsin approved county 911 system. Following his service with the Sheriff's Department, he was appointed by Governor Thompson as the Director of the State's Emergency Management until his retirement in 2004. While working for the county and the state he also held positions as the fire chief of the Merrimac Fire Department for 25 years plus, president of the Sauk Prairie School Board, founding member of the Badger State Sheriff's Association, Merrimac Village President, Lake Wisc. Chamber President and a member of the Baraboo Masonic Lodge 34.

Al is survived by his daughter, Shellie (John) Benish Jr., and their two boys, Kyle and John III "JJ" of Lodi; and grandson, Tyler Shanks (Allison). He is further survived by a sister, Sandra (Herb) Klukas; along with other relatives and friends.

In addition to his parents, Al was preceded in death by his wife, Cindy; daughter, Karen; son, Bill; and five siblings, Adeline, Bill, Roger, Carol, and Mike.

Please join Shellie and the family to celebrate and honor the wonderful life of Alan B. on Sunday, Aug. 8, starting at 12:30 p.m. at MERRIMAC MEMORIAL PARK, Front St., Merrimac. Pastor Roxi Gnatzig will open with prayers. We will gather to share some of our favorite memories, stories, to laugh, cry and remember a wonderful man who is greatly missed. Luncheon to follow.

Online condolences may be made at

Published by on Aug. 1, 2021.
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Celebration of Life
Front St., Merrimac, WI
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