Shirley M. Harris

6 entries
  • "Shirley, I love you and miss you!"
    - Judy Williams
  • "My name is Mary Beggs and I work at the front counter at..."
    - Mary Beggs
    - Wanda McCulloh
  • "Shirley will be missed by so many. She was a selfless,..."
    - Mickey Remy
  • "Shirley was one of those really rare, wonderfully caring..."
    - Ellen Muskin
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After a brief illness, Shirley Harris died peacefully at home on Friday, August 27th, with her husband and daughters at her side. She had just celebrated her 70th year of marriage to Robert Harris on June 8, 2010. Born in Dixon, Illinois, on November 10, 1922, Shirley Mae Hunt was the seventh of eight children of Charles and Mae Anderson Hunt. With the early death of her mother, Shirley traveled alone to California as a thirteen year old girl. Living with a brother in Southern California, she fondly reminisced about a first plane ride at age 14 that an employer set up with Howard Hughes. When her brother was transferred to Oakland, Shirley moved with him where she then assisted families in Oakland, Piedmont and Berkeley as a nanny. In 1940, she graduated from Berkeley High School; a day later she married her beau, Robert. As a high school graduation present Shirley had received a one-way bus ticket back to Illinois, so Robert proposed that day. Rather than be separated, Bob and Shirley eloped to Reno on June 8th, 1940. While Robert served the US Army in France, Shirley worked at the Oakland Naval yard. After the war, she both worked and cared for her children, while Bob finished his education and worked two jobs. Moving from Oakland to Santa Rosa in 1946 changed the path of Shirley's life. She encouraged her young husband to venture out into his own business; in 1952 Bob joined with Hal Trebbe and they purchased King's Stationery located at 424-4th Street. Trebbe sold out to Robert and Shirley one year later. In the beginning, Shirley did the bookkeeping at King's in addition to rearing four small children. She and Robert had three daughters and one son. For many years Shirley was a member of the First Presbyterian church and later she and Robert helped build the community of the Center for Positive Living Church in Santa Rosa, a community based on Norman Vincent Peale's Christian teachings. "A quintessential mother of the fifties", according to her daughters, Shirley combined raising her children with the pleasures of a social life and abundant friendships. She balanced her commitments at home with those of her friends: she entertained, went to dances and theater and kept a well managed home. She engaged fully in her children's schooling, church, and all extra curricular activities ranging from Brownies to Bluebirds, the study of piano to song. In the sixties, as her children reached adulthood, Shirley turned her interests to education and travel. In 1969 she went back to the Santa Rosa Junior College to study literature, history and art. She tutored adults who could not read or write. She studied painting to capture her favorite landscapes: the mountains, lakes and nature she learned to love over many years of camping, fishing and playing outdoors. From 1957 to 2007, she travelled to nearly every continent. From Russia and China to South America, she used her travel to inform her actions. In the late sixties, she hosted foreign exchange students from Germany and Ecuador; both Rosemarie Feig and Silvia Castillo to this day call "Mom" for advice and friendship. Her family grew far beyond her four children to include those international and local students she helped via educational scholarships. An avid student of life, Shirley enjoyed discovering new ways of seeing: painting, reading, bird watching and tending the palette of her expansive rose garden. She loved music, dancing, cooking and every avenue to community. Shirley described her own life as "so blessed"; she gloried in the friendship of so many remarkable women and men. She regularly called on and assisted her sorority sisters of over 60 years, and her beloved line dance community of the past 25 years. She lived seeking all paths that led her into long and trusted friendships. She was well loved by all persons she met in life, as she radiated humility, caring and love. She was also an advocate for her daughters and their inspiration to take on new challenges. Shirley was preceded in death by her daughter, Lynne Harris Kennedy and by her granddaughter, Madeline Harris Eckel. She is survived by her beloved husband Robert W., her two daughters, Judith Harris-Frisk and husband Jerome Frisk (Santa Cruz) and Shirlee Harris (Sequim) her son, William R. Harris (Aptos). Her grandchildren, Tawn O. Kennedy, (Santa Cruz), Michelle Harris Zolezzi, Joy and Daniel Harris (Nashville), Weston Harris Frisk (Santa Cruz) and Nathalie and Genevieve Harris Eckel (Seattle) all loved their grandmother dearly. Shirley enjoyed one great grandchild, Anthony Zolezzi. A woman of immense generosity, Shirley will be dearly missed by family and friends. A memorial will be held on October 2 at noon at the Santa Rosa Golf and Country Club. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations made to the Shirley Harris Memorial Scholarship Fund, Santa Rosa Junior College Foundation, 1501 Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95401 or to your favorite charity.
Published Online in the Press Democrat from Sept. 11 to Sept. 13, 2010
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