Shirley J. Shelton passed away on July 4, 2020, in Moab, Utah. She was born Sept. 17, 1934 and raised in Clifton, Colorado. She was the youngest of six children born to Ralph and Leona Oberly.
Shirley is survived by her sister, Leona Gardner of Leisureville, California. She was married to William C. Shelton for 50 years. Her husband predeceased her on Nov. 12, 2006.
After Shirley obtained her teaching certificate from Wester State College in Gunnison, Colorado, she was hired by Helen M. Knight to teach school in Moab, so she and her husband, Bill, moved to Moab during the uranium boom to work and raise their family.
She and Bill lived in Moab for 43 years. After Shirley retired, they sold their home in Moab and moved to Grand Junction, Colorado. Shirley was an educator for 38 years, including being vice principal at Helen M. Knight Elementary School. She taught almost every grade from kindergarten through 7th grade, except for the 1st grade. Her favorite grade was 6th grade, and at one point in her teaching career, she received the “Teacher of the Year” award.
Shirley was blessed with three children, Marilyn E. O’Reilly, of Moab; Beverly J. Griffith, of Grand Junction; and William H. Shelton, of Clifton.
Shirley had seven grandchildren, Dennis O’Reilly, Micheal O’Reilly, Patrick O’Reilly (deceased), Micah Griffith, Matthew Griffith, Michelle Martinez Griffith and Mariah Griffith; and 12 great-grandchildren, Preston O’Reilly, Bailey O’Reilly, Oliva O’Reilly, Amelia O’Reilly, Krysta Griffith, Ryker Griffith, Angelyse Griffith, Michaela Griffith, Lucy Griffith, Adaline Griffith, Rosie Barajas and Athena Barajas.
She was a Girl Scout leader for about 10 years. She took three Girl Scout leaders and seven Girl Scouts on a trip to Mexico along with the Girl Scout leader and her troop from Price, Utah, Glenda Gibson. In all, there were a total of 32 Girl Scouts/leaders who embarked on a memorable 30-day trip to Mexico, which included a stay at the Girl Guide Hostel in Ticalli, Mexico, a trip to the silver city, Taxco, a trip to visit the pyramids in Cuernavaca, and a trip to Acapulco to watch the cliff divers. It took four years of hard work for everyone involved to earn enough money to be able to go on the trip, which also included $200 spending money for each girl.
Shirley had a feisty, adventurous spirit. She had her own parking space at City Market. Mind you it was not a designated parking space. It was a space close to the door that she called her own. Her grandchildren would tell her she could not park there, and she would simply reply, “Watch me.” She also won a river trip down Cataract Canyon by entering a contest, and of course she went. She and the rest of the contest winners were featured on the cover of ‘Outdoor” magazine.
Shirley’s home was open to everyone, especially to children and animals. She did not care how many would be dining at her table. When told who would be coming, she would simply state, “What’s one more.” Her home was famous for the menagerie of unusual animals, including geese that were often found on East 300 South directing traffic.
Shirley was an active member of St. Francis Episcopal Church where Father Sandy had the pleasure of blessing Gertrude the goose for the blessing of the animals. She was an avid member of “Sweet Adaline’s group known as Valley Voices.” Throughout Shirley’s life she was blessed to have three wonderful girlfriends, Marilyn Cooper (deceased), Jeri Pilling (deceased), and LaVarre Hibl. They fondly referred to themselves as the “Golden Girls” and went on a trip to Ireland together. After going to Ireland Shirley acquired a liking for Irish whiskey, and would often request a wee bit of the Jameson, along with her kids’ meal.
Shirley had a wonderfully rich and loving life, and she will be severely missed by her family and friends.
At Shirley’s request, cremation has taken place and a graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. July 21, 2020 at the Grand Junction Veterans Cemetery on D Road.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.SpanishValleyMortuary.com.