SHAY HIRSCH

Obituary
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  • "I was friends with Shay in the 9th grade. Then I..."
    - Kathleen Slinger
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    - William du Pont Staab, Jr.
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    - Norman Nelson
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    - Kal Wagenheim
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HIRSCH--Shay Yandell. June 8, 1947 to February 3, 2014. A beloved mother, wife, grandmother, social worker, friend, marathon runner, skier, writer, advocate, hiker, traveler, defender of the vulnerable and cancer warrior, passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by family, on February 3rd. Shay grew up in Boise, Idaho, where she was a 1965 graduate of Boise High School. Her childhood in the American West sparked a lasting love of nature. She entered a career in social work after graduating from Whitman College in 1969, and she devoted her life to others. In 1973, she married Greg Scrivner; the couple's two sons, Ian and Sean, were born in Alaska. After living in France, Ireland, Colombia, and New Jersey, Shay returned to Boise, where she became the director of YWCA's shelter for battered women, now called the Women's and Children's Alliance. At the 1988 New Jersey Waterfront Marathon, George Hirsch, who had met Shay only the day before at a marathon expo, and who was irrevocably lovestruck, ran through the crowded field of a race for which he had not registered until he found her. They ran the remaining 21 miles together, and they married the next year. Shay relocated to New York City, but the Hirsches maintained strong ties to Idaho, and they kept a home in Sun Valley. For the past eleven years, Shay wrote eloquently of her fight against multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer. Through two stem cell transplants and through more recent encounters with myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia, Shay faced wave after wave of indignities with dignity and grace. She ended each post about her cancer battle by saying "Onward!" She embraced every part of life as an adventure, even the difficult ones. The impact of Shay's life is "incalculably diffusive," as George Eliot once wrote. Shay's memory will be held closely in the hearts of her husband, George A. Hirsch, the chairman of the New York Road Runners; her son Ian Scrivner and spouse Cinzia Dinoi; her son Sean Scrivner and partner Rachel Teannalach; her stepsons David and William Hirsch; her father Robert Yandell, brother Robert Yandell, and brother John Yandell and spouse Julie Yandell; her grandchildren Anjali Hirsch and Rhys Scrivner; and her nephews Christopher and Nicholas Yandell. A celebration of Shay's life will be held in March.

Published in The New York Times on Feb. 6, 2014