SHIRLEY COMBEE, 79
LAKELAND - Shirley Combee, a native of Polk County, was born in Winter Haven and moved with her family to Lakeland before she started school. She graduated from Lakeland High School in 1955 and married her husband, Ernest, on June 17th, the same year. They celebrated their 61st anniversary in 2016.
Shirley was predeceased by her parents, Curtis and Thelma Johnson Walling and her brother Doug Walling. She is survived by her loving and devoted husband Ernest, brother Conrad 'Red' Walling; three children, Cindy Combee Rodriguez, Darrell Combee and Ginger Combee Corda (Mike Baker); four grandchildren: Tara Rodriguez, Barrett Rodriguez (Samantha), Mandy Corda Pinto (Bill), Darrell 'DJ' Combee, Jr. and a great granddaughter Cadence Rodriguez and many nieces/nephews.
When her youngest child started school, Shirley (age 30) began her higher education, earning her AA degree at Polk Community College (now Polk State) and continued at the University of South Florida to earn her masters in business education (magna Cum Laude, 1972). Ultimately, at age 40, while working full time as an educator, she earned her doctorate degree from Nova University and continued a stellar career as a college professor, academic dean and assistant to the provost at Hillsborough Community College. During her tenure, she enjoyed many accolades, association leadership roles and recognitions including 'World Who's Who of Women;' Florida Association of Community Colleges, American Association of Women in Higher Education; National Business Education Association; Academic Excellence Award (USF 1970) and Miracle Worker Award (United Fund). She had a passion for learning and educating and instilled that passion in her children and grandchildren.
Dr. Combee was successful in every endeavor she undertook and always attributed that success to her love of the Lord. A devout Christian, she led food, prayer, youth, Sunday school and other ministries at several churches including her beloved home church, Northside Baptist. Shirley brought many others to the Lord through her ministries, her testimony and example.
Over the years, she also supported her husband in his music ministry at several Baptist Churches in Polk County. In later years, Shirley successfully managed her husband's bluegrass gospel band, 'Never Fade.' She handled all the concert bookings, ran the sound board and helped mix several recorded productions/CDs for the band for nearly 14 years.
Her hobbies included writing poetry; lyrics for gospel songs (over 20 were published and many recorded; gardening; sewing; crocheting, reading and spending time at the couple's cabin in North Carolina.
Shirley lived her life as an example to others; God first followed closely by family.
A visitation will be held from 5:30 PM to 6:00 PM Tuesday at Gentry-Morrison, 3350 Mall Hill Dr. Memorial service to follow at 6:00 PM. Donations may be made to Northside Baptist Church.
Condolences to the family may be offered at
Gentry-Morrison Funeral Homes - Serenity Gardens, LLC
3350 Mall Hill Drive
Lakeland, FL 33810
Published in Ledger from Jan. 7 to Jan. 8, 2017