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Obituary: Shane Milianes

Published in Union Leader on May 4, 2018

CONTOOCOOK – Husband. Father. Son. Friend. Chef. Bass Player. Hockey Lover. Coach. Hiker.

Shane Milianes died on Friday, April 27, 2018 after living beautifully and courageously with ALS for 4 years. He fit a full lifetime’s worth into his 46 years, by loving fully and caring deeply about his passions: his family, hockey, the outdoors, music and cooking. As Shane always said, “Food is love.”

Shane was born in 1972 in Concord, New Hampshire to Jewel L’Esperance and Thomas Milianes. He spent the first half of his childhood in Concord, riding bikes with his friends and stopping in at his grandparents’ bakery – Betsy’s, on Loudon Road. Shane moved from Concord to Londonderry at the age of 12 and graduated from Londonderry High School in 1990. During his Londonderry years, Shane became close with Mike Cook, a.k.a. “Friday.” Friday became like family to Shane. Shane’s innate honesty, trust, empathy and humor drew people to him. When Shane became close to someone, his loyalty was lifelong. When he was by your side in friendship, he was truly by your side – and unwavering.

From the time he could walk, Shane was in the kitchen, starting with his grandparents’ bakery. As a small boy in the pack ‘n play, he learned how to make rolled dough with his Papous. He began working in his family donut stand at the Hopkinton State Fair, a tradition that would last a lifetime and extend to the Deerfield, Fryeburg and Sandwich Fairs. People lined up year after year for those famous jumbo donuts. He studied in the culinary program at NHC for two years, then decided to venture into the real world, working in several kitchens around NH. Along the way, he was lucky to land in the kitchen of Chef David Smith, a true mentor to him. He worked at Whippersnappers for several years where he eventually came to run the kitchen. True to Shane’s understated style, he preferred the term “kitchen manager” to the more formal “Chef.” Shane went on to run the kitchen at the Common Man in Concord where he would be for seven years. It was in this kitchen that he met the love of his life, Kara Byrne.

One of the things that Kara admired about Shane was his love and adoration of his two sons, Bryce and Theo. His heart and life revolved around them. He took great joy in watching them play hockey from a young age. He coached in their leagues and built a backyard hockey rink for them winter after winter. From the age of 4, Kiernan Byrne became the third tiny planet in Shane’s orbit – and Shane loved to watch Kier play baseball, football and lacrosse as he grew.

Shane and Kara spent 13 years together, raising their boys in Contoocook, NH, gardening, splitting wood and travelling. When he was given the diagnosis of ALS, Shane and Kara looked at their twist in the road, took each other’s hand, and got down to the business of sucking the marrow out of life. Shane worked as long as he could, running the kitchen at the Concord Country Club – passionate as always about food and people. As his body changed, they started the famous “Wheelchair Tour” – from Coast to Coast, and down to New Orleans for JazzFest, with concerts and Bruins games in between. His sense of adventure and strength was palpable right up until the very end. Kara was there, by his side, every day, making it happen.

Many people came to support Shane and his family over the years. They are grateful to every one of them, and especially thankful to two women: Mary Anne Byrne, and Jewel L’Esperance. Their mothers were present and helpful in the most practical, capable, spirited and loving way.

Bolstered by the support of people who love him, Shane was able to stay within the beating heart of his passions. His group of friends was by his side – stalwart, steadfast and wild. Even up to last spring, Shane’s inner circle of guys set out for their yearly canoe trip down the Saco River. He could walk only a few steps, but the guys happily portaged him down the river: Shane in a kilt, drinking beer, cracking jokes, with a smile on his face.

Shane was able to be drummed home, listening to his cousin, Konah Azure of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewas in North Dakota, drumming the Chippewa Traveling Song. Shane is survived by his mother, Jewel L’Esperance, his father and stepmother Tom Milianes and Deb Geary and brother Thomas, his wife Kara Byrne and their sons, Bryce Milianes, Theodore Milianes, and Kiernan Byrne.

SERVICES: A celebration of Shane’s life will be held at St. Methodios Faith and Heritage Center, 329 Camp Merrimac Rd. in Contoocook, NH on Saturday, May 5, from 3-8pm. Loved ones are welcome to come to all or part of the celebration. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Compassionate Care ALS, at