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Shirley Biers

1919 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Shirley Biers Obituary
Shirley Gratenstein Biers

November 19, 1919 - January 17, 2018

After sharing 98 wonderful years with family and friends, Shirley Gratenstein Biers passed away peacefully, in San Mateo, CA, on January 17, 2018. Shirley was born November 19, 1919 in Brooklyn, NY, to the late Anna Shapiro Gratenstein and Emanuel H. Gratenstein. She grew up in New Haven, CT and graduated from Pembroke College, Brown University, Class of 1940 with an English major and a Music minor. In 1941, at Katherine Gibbs Executive Secretarial School in New York, she received certification for college grads.

During the 1940's Shirley worked in the New York publicity office for Gracie Fields', a well-known British singer. Field's National Tour, "Bundles for Britain", was a fundraiser for the British war effort. Shirley also worked for the Office of War Information and then for Time Magazine.

In 1949, she married Irving Biers and had two daughters, Kate and Nanette. A homemaker and frequent volunteer, Shirley and her family moved to Florida in 1954. She resided in Palm Beach and Coral Gables until the couple divorced in 1967.

Shirley moved to California in 1968 where she became a photographer. Also, in San Francisco, at Juvenile Hall she facilitated a reading group for delinquent adolescent girls where one participant wrote an original play. Later, while living in Palo Alto, she volunteered with Stanford University's Mid-Peninsula Urban Coalition where she wrote their newsletter.

Among her many interests were studying and playing piano, horseback riding, art, theater, travel, tennis, and hiking. In the 1990's, she became interested in collage and watercolors, and in November 2005 opened a two-person show of her work with Grace Sevy called "Collage, Then & Now" at Focus Gallery in San Francisco.

Her love of nature, particularly the ocean, was very strong. Among the highlights of her life were visiting her favorite "spirit" places, Point Lobos State Reserve south of Carmel, CA and the spectacular Kohala coast on the Big Island of Hawaii, where, with her children, she enjoyed annual spring visits. Family, friends, and people of all walks of life, and lively, interesting, heart-felt conversation, were things Shirley cherished. She had a love of life and a deep appreciation of beauty and goodness.

She is survived by, and will be greatly missed by, her two daughters, Nanette M. Biers, and Katherine P. Biers, her son-in-law, D. Scott Rojohn, and her nephews and niece, Anthony Barnston, Patricia Barnston, Charles Barnston, and Henry Barnston.

She was preceded in death by her brother Jerome W. Gratenstein in 1993, her brother-in-law Fred Palmer in 2000, her close friend Suzy Fromm in 2001, her beloved grandson Ian Emerson Jones in 2015 and by her sister Leona Gratenstein Palmer in 2016.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Feb. 18, 2018
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