BELL, Shirley Lois (Gehrke) (Jennett) Shirley Lois Gehrke was born in Sandpoint, Idaho on January 14, 1933 to Alvin Adolph Gehrke and Gwendolyn Alice Starr. The family relocated to Spokane in the early months of Shirley's life. Shirley attended school in Spokane Valley and graduated from Central Valley High School, Class of 1951. She was the best baton twirler for the "Bears." Following high school, she began a banking career, holding several different positions with many different financial institutions. In 1980, Shirley transferred into the Human Resources field with AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange Service). She worked at several Air Force and Army installations in Germany until she retired in 1998. Following retirement, Shirley returned "home" to Spokane. She "reconnected" with several classmates from Central Valley. They met regularly for lunch to share life experiences and memories. Shirley was a longtime member of the Spokane Valley United Methodist Church. She was known as the "Card Lady" for sending out cards to people in need of prayers along with messages of hope and faith. Her gorgeous alto voice enhanced the church choir. Shirley taught an adult Sunday school class and belonged to "Small Group" that met weekly to study the Word and spiritually support each other. She loved the Lord and always went above and beyond in serving Him. Shirley married the late Ronald Alvin Pursey on September 2, 1950. Their marriage produced four children: Pamela Jean Sullivan of Denver, CO; David LeRoy Pursey of Johnston, SC; Michael Jon Pursey of Harbor City, CA; and Lisa Diane Lyle of Destin, FL. The marriage ended in divorce in 1968 and Shirley struggled as a single mother for several years. She never missed a step, continuing to care and provide for her children. Shirley married the late Joseph Earl Jennett in 1970. Following her retirement and return to Spokane, she met Henry S. Bell. Their relationship was ordained by God through marriage in the church. Shirley and Henry shared their love for almost 14 years. Shirley is survived by one brother, Patrick Thiel of Spokane Valley. She was preceded in death by one brother, Clarence Gehrke. Shirley's family included seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Her heavenly birthday is June 19, 2014. A memorial service will be held at Spokane Valley United Methodist Church, at 2:00pm on Wednesday, July 16, 2014. The Reverend Mike Graef of Spokane Valley United Methodist and The Reverend Christi Pursey of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Johnston, South Carolina will officiate. Interment will be in the Veterans Columbarium at Pines Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials in her name may be given to the Restoration Project of the Spokane Valley United Methodist Church.
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Published in Spokesman-Review on July 13, 2014