Family and friends of Mary Jimmie “Bobo” Shinn remembered the missing Magnolia woman on Saturday at a memorial service coming 36 years after her disappearance.
Speakers at the service, held at Central Baptist Church, said the family wanted the event to serve as an end and a beginning.
Earlier on Saturday, the Shinn family gathered at Memorial Park Cemetery to place a marker remembering Miss Shinn, who was 25 years old when she disappeared on July 20, 1978. The marker is next to the graves of her parents, the late Mary Sue and Gresham Shinn.
“We are drawing to a close a long chapter when we think about Bobo and the events connected with her disappearance 36 years ago that affected this family so personally and so deeply,” said Dr. Michael Seabaugh, pastor of Central Baptist Church.
Seabaugh also mentioned the impact that the Bobo Shinn disappearance has had on the community.
“The world has changed a lot since 1978. Back in 1978, it was a very rare thing to hear about this type of thing happening. And for it to happen to someone that we knew and that was so precious to us was a reminder that we do not have control over this world and that we can be touched by such painful things,” Seabaugh said.
The cemetery gathering was “an ending of hope -- that we were acknowledging the death of Bobo. For some time this has been something we’ve all feared and suspected and today, acknowledged. But here, this afternoon, we move on,” Seabaugh said.
Dr. Jon Stubblefield, who was pastor of Central Baptist Church when Miss Shinn disappeared, remembered her as a fine, young Christian woman.
“But I would be negligent if I did not make an appeal at this point. I still believe that after all these years, there is someone, somewhere, who knows what happened. Someone who remembers. Someone who saw something. Someone whose conscience needs to be awakened. Someone who needs the conviction to step forward and say, ‘Yes, I remember this.’ We may not know in this lifetime what happened to Bobo, but we are assured in scripture there is nothing hidden but what will be revealed,” Stubblefield said.
“For those who are perpetrators of evil, be sure that your sin will find you out. Not that God will find out about your sin. He knows it. But the sin will be exposed.
“It is my hope and prayer that even as a result of this service, and the publicity that has surrounded it, that someone even at this date might come forward and share something that would help bring closure to this family,” Stubblefield said.
Jeanne Bigelow Longinotti, a Magnolia High School and Southern Arkansas University classmate of Miss Shinn, remembered her friend as creative, smart, and someone who had a great personality. Longinotti prizes a silver ring that Shinn made for her.
“Bobo loved to have fun. We had a little song that we sang together, ‘We’ll have fun fun fun until daddy takes the checkbook away.’ And Gresham did,” Longinotti said, as many of the approximately 200 people in attendance laughed.
Beth Anne Rankin and Russell Gregory sang “Until Then,” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
A video remembrance showed Miss Shinn as a young child at birthday parties and with her family. A progression of photographs began with first grade at East Side Elementary School and continued through her years as a Girl Scout, a band member, and high school honors. The final pictures showed Miss Shinn traveling and putting up an art exhibit.
Miss Shinn was born January 11, 1953 and graduated from Southern Arkansas University in 1976.
On the afternoon of July 20, 1978, Shinn’s 1976 Buick Special was found in the parking lot of what was then Smitty’s grocery at the corner of Main and Dudney in Magnolia. Authorities believe that Shinn met a man who was interested in looking at a house on East McNeil Street that Shinn had remodeled and hoped to sell. But Shinn apparently never told anyone with whom she was meeting.
The condition of Shinn’s car also suggested that Shinn may not have been the person who left it in the parking lot. Her wallet and keys remained in the unlocked car, but her address book was missing.
Miss Shinn is survived by three sisters, Sarah Newton and husband Wayne of Highland Village, Texas, Linda Shinn Grace and husband Harrison “Happy“ Grace, and Becky Shinn, all of Texarkana, Arkansas; and a brother, Jay Shinn of Dallas, Texas; nieces Ashley Grace Lee, April Grace Messersmith; and nephews Matthew Newton, Clay Newton and Jeremy Newton.
A master of arts in teaching scholarship has been established as a memorial to Miss Shinn. Contributions may be made online to the Southern Arkansas University Foundation
Specify that the contribution is to the Bobo Shinn Master of Arts in Teaching, Art Major, Scholarship.