Shirley Ann Brockbank Paxman
1919 - 2015
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1919 ~ 2015
Shirley Ann Brockbank Paxman was born third child to Isaac and Elsie Booth Brockbank and grew up with her eight sisters at 59 West 500 North in Provo. She debuted on December 10, 1919 and died in her sleep on December 17, a week after her 96th birthday. She married Monroe J. Paxman on December 18, 1942 in the Salt Lake LDS Temple. They have lived in Wichita, Kansas; Salt Lake City; Reno, Nevada; Urbana, Illinois; Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany; Izmir, Turkey; Frankfurt, Germany; and Provo, where they spent most of their life together.
Shirley was a registered nurse, an avid reader, a community organizer, a school board president, a traveler, a museum director, and she lived exuberantly. She once stood in front of a moving bulldozer to block it from demolishing Provo's Academy Square because she knew funding was on its way to save the building. Born with an abundance of energy and creative ideas, she always had a project or a cause. She enjoyed hosting gatherings and parties, creating magical experiences, writing books, working in historic preservation, giving speeches, and sharing her opinions. She was unconventional and ready to speak out, a strong, enthusiastic feminist, a mentor, and an advocate for the underprivileged.
She trained at Holy Cross Hospital in Salt Lake City before her marriage and grew to love the Catholic sisters and the rosary. Her religious involvement was ecumenical. She served well all her life in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but sometimes referred to herself as Catholic Mormon and was involved with the Episcopal Church as well. She found God and truth in many places. Through it all, she expressed her love for and faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She drew on traditions from diverse religions and cultures as she and her husband Monroe raised their seven children. She celebrated holidays with gusto, created costumes, baked and decorated thousands of sugar cookies, belonged to various social clubs and historical societies, and included many people in her entertaining.
Shirley lived by Gibran's words, "Work is love made visible." Her compassionate heart fueled her personal and civic service. She worked to make things better for people she cared about, whether they were family, immigrants, foreign diplomats, college students, or merely lonely. It was no small thing if Shirley was in your corner; her support was palpable. She and Pax loved to welcome people to their family cabin at Wildwood, let them use the inner tubes, swing on the swings, lie in the hammock, or play in the water, and Shirley cooked abundant meals to feed them. She hosted speakers and musical programs for groups of friends. She and Monroe served on several local and university advisory boards.
Shirley frequently laughed at the humor in life and was a good storyteller; she was no stranger to hyperbole and often exaggerated her children's good qualities and accomplishments. She was also a master of typographical errors in her weekly family letters. She and Pax have been generous grandparents who took care of kids with aplomb and enjoyment. Wet feet and dirty hands weren't worth worrying about; craft projects, hammering nails into wood, hiking, and imaginative play were encouraged.
A capable woman of many talents, Shirley sewed, knitted, sketched, decorated, and quilted; she refinished furniture and collected antiques as well as Noah's arks, nativities, Santa Clauses, family traditions, ideas, articles, and books. She and Pax hiked for decades and co-authored a Utah Valley hiking guide. Lifelong supporters of the arts, they attended concerts, lectures, and plays regularly until Shirley fell and broke two vertebrae three weeks before her death. As her short term memory faded, one of her most common statements was, "We count our blessings." Her next line was always, "I still have my husband!" A few years ago she said, "I have very few regrets. I've had stability, excitement--a fantastic life." We love our mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, and her passion for life will continue to inspire us.
Preceding Shirley in death were her sisters Ila Peterson, Helen Weech, Elinor Brimhall, Pat Fillmore, Kay Webber, her daughter Mary Beth McGee, and her grandson David Thomas. She is survived by her dream-facilitating husband Monroe, her sisters Carol Olson, Nancy Livingston, Joyce Beazer, and her children John and Petrina Lee Poy Paxman (Montreal), Carolyn and Marion T. Bentley (Logan), David and Kathryn Pope Hoopes Paxman (Mapleton), Nancy and Peter Thomas (Sun Valley), Annette and Scott Bowen (Seattle), and Susie and David Hatch (Chicago) as well as by numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Visitation will be held Monday, December 21 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Berg Mortuary, 185 East Center Street, Provo, and Tuesday, December 22 from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Provo Peak Third Ward, 510 East 200 North, Provo. The funeral will begin Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. at the same church. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Monroe and Shirley Paxman Humanitarian Scholarship or the Mary Paxman McGee Endowed Scholarship at Utah Valley University or to the Brockbank Education Fund (supporting young women in South Africa;

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Published in The Salt Lake Tribune from Dec. 19 to Dec. 20, 2015.
06:30 - 08:30 PM
09:30 - 10:30 AM
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16 entries
December 13, 2019
She was a woman to be emulated!
Carol Oldham
April 27, 2016
Shirley was a constant support for me in my formative years--offering food and lodging whenever I needed it. I send my love to Pax, who with Shirley, influenced my daughter on her BYU semester abroad.
Mary Bradford
April 26, 2016
I remember Shirley and Monroe and children from many meetings in Wildwood Box Elder grove. I lived up the North Fork. They supported the arts all over the State as I saw them on occasion in Salt Lake City as well. best wishes to the family.
Robert Bennion
February 23, 2016
The Paxman home was open o me whenever I visited Utah I joined them in England when my daughter was on semester abroad there, and Shirley was a bosom buddy ever since.
Mary L. Bradford
Mary Bradford
February 22, 2016
I loved the summer tubing time at your cabin wen I was in college. And we missed Shirley and Montoe when they were not at the Chamber Music concerts in Salt Lake. She is certainly doing exciting things on the other side. Ilene Carter Ferris
Ilene Ferris
December 21, 2015
I sometimes visited with Shirley when I came to Utah to visit my sister Jean Marshall who had worked with her at the doll museum. She was kind and welcoming to me. Most of all I remember that on the day my father died, and almost the moment, Shirley had called my mother, Kay Stockseth, on the phone. Upon hearing Kay's sad news she immediately put down the phone and came right over to support Mother and handle the situation. She was one of the women I admire most and I am grateful to have known her.
Carol Oldham
December 21, 2015
I only wish I had learned about her passing sooner. I would have loved to celebrate with all the Paxmans the greatness of her life.

Since 1966 when I first met her she has been an inspiration to me. All her great children (a clear reflection of a great mother, which she was), a great example of remaining vibrant by participating in the arts and maintaining her intellectual curiosity right up till the end of her abundant exemplary life was beautiful to me.

No matter what kind of concert it was, steel drum band, piano, orchestra, or art showing she and Monroe were there. What an inspiration!

Even better, their attitude, their love of life and adventure--hiking, community service, arts, preservation of all things good, spelled out a life lived fully.

As she endured to the end I'm sure she is already making a difference in heaven. The Paxman family she be proud of having such a royal mother.
David & Mary Ann Pollei
December 20, 2015
What a remarkable life she shared with you, Monroe. Blessings on you as you continue without her. Thank you for your kindness to me.
Julie Nichols
December 20, 2015
Shirley influenced my life through her writings long before I met her. And of course knowing her in person was an added blessing.
Marjorie Conder
December 19, 2015
To all the Paxmans,

Your mom and family have been Provo treasures for decades! I so remember the Paxman Family Circus and the fun that provided all the kids in Provo. And that Mom and Dad were such good friends with Monroe and Shirley was a blessing for our parents. I believe that the Paxmans were with Mom and Dad in Italy when their suitcases were stolen, and Mom laughed about the Italians finding temple garments in the bags and wondering what in the h....
that underwear was.

Big hugs to all of the Paxmans. Your mom is why people are sent to the Earth: to make it a better place!

Betty V. W.
Betty Van Wagenen
December 19, 2015
Sending love to all of my beloved Paxman friends! I have such fond memories of your mother, especially at this time of year when I remember those wonderful family Christmas parties with all of you! I feel blessed to have known her. What a long and rich life she had!
Martha Hales
December 19, 2015
Sowbys, Nov '15, as we finished our mission wiith New York Public & International Affairs
Shirley is one of my all-time heroes. Her tenacity, outspokenness, creativity, encouragement, and "spirit of doing" have inspired me for decades. I thought of her just this past week as I passed the Provo Tabernacle/temple and how, when I'd stopped by the Paxman home a couple of summers ago, she greeted me warmly and effused about how great life is, with good books to read and grand mountains to look at every morning. I thought of the little post cards she'd often sent me in thanks for some article I'd written. We were always tickled to run into the Paxmans at a concert somewhere; they never quit enjoying the cultural opportunities close at hand. I, like so many others, was blessed to know her! Love and condolences to Monroe and their family.
Laurie Williams Sowby
December 19, 2015
Dearest Annette and Scott,
How we enjoyed reading about your mother, Annette...a great woman. We can see her great influence in your life. How blessed you all were. We send our love at this time.
John and Gisela Humphrey
John and Gisea Humphrey
December 19, 2015
Shirley Paxman was one of the Greats. Anyone who knew her was better for the privilege. She had generous reservoirs of energy, curiosity, creativity, intelligence, and courage. I came away from every conversation with her enlightened and encouraged. She was a lot like Eleanor Roosevelt, whom she knew personally--except that Shirley was less fearful and a more gifted speaker right from the start. I'd say, "Rest in peace, Shirley,"--except she won't rest. Blessed be her name.
Elouise Bell
December 19, 2015
Dear Annette and Scott,
Oh! What an amazing woman she is! I can clearly see the great example she was in knowing Annette.
Please know we are thinking about you during this bitter sweet time.
We love the Bowens!
Dave and Terri Young
Terri Young
December 19, 2015
I will miss her abundant hospitality--
Mary Bradford
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