Shirley Walker French
1937 - 2021
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ELON- Shirley Walker French passed away peacefully at home in Elon, NC on Wednesday January 6, 2021 from complications of COPD. She was born in 1937 to Bruce and Blanche Terrell Walker in Caswell County and was raised there until her family moved to Burlington. Shirley was predeceased by her parents, her husband, Ralph French, her sister, Betty Walker, her brother, Richard Walker and his wife, Betty Lou, and brother-in-law, Lester Barwick. She is survived by her sister, Delaina Barwick of Gibsonville; niece Michele (Johnny) Davis of Beaufort; nephew Darrell Walker of Morehead City; Ralph's daughters, Nita French (Mary Arthur) and Marsha Smith, all of Atlanta, Ga.; and many grandnieces and -nephews, cousins and close friends.

Shirley graduated from Pleasant Grove High School, attended Campbell University, and graduated from Elon University. Over the course of nearly 30 years, she taught 5th and 6th grades and then became a roving writing teacher in what is now called the Alamance-Burlington School System. Her many former colleagues, students, and their parents remember her with great fondness and gratitude for her dedication, genuine personal interest, and kind support of every student.

She temporarily retired from teaching in 1981 after meeting and marrying Ralph French. Though they had only a brief time together before his death, their marriage brought much joy to them both.

In addition to a being a teacher, Shirley was an active member of the First Baptist Church, Burlington, NC for over 50 years. She was a former choir member, Sunday School teacher, and Deacon who saw these roles as her way of serving God.

Shirley was a warm, gracious, positive friend, neighbor and family member. She loved music, singing, and ballroom dancing. In addition, she loved eating out with friends, traveling, bright lights, and socializing in general. When anyone suggested an outing or a trip, Shirley didn't ask where - she simply said "Let me get my purse."

In 2014, Shirley moved to The Hamlet, a retirement community in Elon. This was one of her best decisions. There she found a welcoming community and many new friends.

The family would like to thank her dedicated caregiver team coordinated by her special friend, Susan Honeycutt.

The viewing will be Monday, January 11th from 10:00 - 11:00 AM at Rich and Thompson in Burlington. A graveside service at Alamance Memorial Park will follow at noon.

Memorial contributions may be made to First Baptist Church of Burlington Building Fund, 400 S. Broad St., 27215, or to AuthoraCare Collective (Hospice), 2500 Summit Ave., Greensboro, NC. 27405.

Rich & Thompson Funeral and Cremation Service in Burlington is assisting the family.

Condolences can be offered online at

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Published in on Jan. 8, 2021.
Graveside service
12:00 PM
Alamance Memorial Park
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Rich and Thompson Funeral and Cremation Service
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2 entries
January 13, 2021
I remember her as Miss Walker, my 5th grade teacher at E.M. Yoder Elementary. Many years have passed but I still remember her with great fondness and respect. She was a wonderful lady and I was truly blessed to be one of her students.
Sybil Brady Walker
January 10, 2021
As a caregiver I had the pleasure of working with Shirley, such a blessing she was to me❤
Dixie Sizemore
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