Robert Anson Shirley (1944 - 2017)

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  • "Although it's been nearly 40 yrs since I last saw Bobby it..."
    - Michael Shirley
  • "I only met him once with his son Bobby who I'm Best..."
    - Robert Kemplin
  • "I only knew Robert a short time, but he was a true..."
    - Mary Scott
  • "Mike, I'm so sorry for your loss. I hope each family member..."
    - Gail Little
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Robert Anson ""Bobby"" Shirley, 72
Our beloved father, Robert Anson ""Bobby"" Shirley, was born in Cynthiana, Ky. on Oct. 7, 1944 and passed away in Cynthiana, Ky. on May 3, 2017.
Now that our father is gone, we are challenged with the impossible task of summing up a man and his life in an obituary for the people and town he loved. If he had written this himself, we would all get one more chance to hear his wit and his final words would have been entertaining, if not profound.
If you knew Robert Anson Shirley (Bobby), then you will understand my words when I say, you cannot adequately describe that man in this paper, you had to know him, which the majority of you did. Our father lived his life solving problems, telling stories and simply being smarter than the rest of us. Many of the stories he enjoyed telling his children over the years was the history of his family, especially ones about his father, Waymon Mills Shirley (Pete) (d. 1971) and his Uncle Carl Franklin Shirley (d. 1968), both of whom are buried in Cynthiana.
His father, originally from Anderson, South Carolina married Mary Ruth Ecklar (d. 2011) of Cynthiana in the 40's. They had three children, Frank Waymon Shirley (b. 1942), Julius Allan Shirley (d. 2014) and our father Robert. He was educated in the little red school house behind his parents' home and graduated from Cynthiana High School in 1962. He attended the University of Kentucky before choosing to enlist in the Navy, during the Vietnam War, where he was assigned to the Naval Air Test Center in Patuxent River, Maryland. He met and married Paulette Marie Gismondi in Baltimore, Maryland and moved back to Cynthiana where they had four children: his sons Robert Anson Shirley II (b. 1969), Nathan Waymon Mills Shirley (b. 1973), and Michael Patrick Shirley (b. 1975), his daughter Chamblee Marie Shirley (b. 1976), whom he named after his paternal grandmother Mallie Lenora Chamblee Shirley (d. 1961). All his children were born right here in Cynthiana, Ky. at Harrison Memorial Hospital.
His son Robert II has two children, his grandson Robert Anson Shirley III (b. 1998), granddaughter Brooke Rene Shirley (b. 2002). He was also preceded in death by his beloved maternal grandmother Hattie Lavesque Ecklar (d. 1993); it is with her that he requested to be buried.
In the 70's he was part of the council that helped save the Harrison County Courthouse. He owned and operated many businesses throughout his life, such as a tv repair business when he returned from the Navy, and building car washes in and around Cynthiana. In addition, he obtained his Master Plumbers and Master Electricians licenses. During the 80's he worked for Bundy Tubing and Toyota Motor Manufacturing from opening day 1986 until he retired in 2005. During his years at Toyota, he started Southern Auto, a joint venture with his sons, which ultimately specialized in Volvos. After retirement our father did what he loved; starting yet another business with all his children in Lexington, collecting, helping to fix things for other people around town, and simply being a character.
In the days since his passing, many of us reflect on Cynthiana life without Bobby Shirley. We will miss his laugh and his interesting take on life. He taught us to work hard, earn what we have, make good decisions and don't throw anything away unless you know what it is. As the world speeds forward, and these old men, with their old stories pass away, it is inevitable that some of this history will be lost, along with all that knowledge gained over a lifetime which he did his best to pass on in every interaction we had with him. We are left to embrace everything he taught us and share with others what he told us. Thank you Dad, we loved you very much.
Visitation with family and friends will be Saturday, May 13 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Battle Grove Cemetery in Cynthiana, Ky. Please come prepared to tell your stories about our father.
Care Cremation and Funeral Service, Lexington, Ky., is in charge of arrangements.
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Care Cremation
Lexington, KY 40505
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Published in The Cynthiana Democrat on May 11, 2017