Date of Birth: May 11, 1928
Date of Death: May 22, 2021
Shirley McKennon (nee Schultz) passed on May 22, 2021 surrounded by family in Phoenix, Arizona. Shirley was 93 years old. Shirley was born on May 11, 1928 in Ottawa, Canada, the fourth of five children. She was a beautiful, caring, and supportive mother, a loving wife, a devoted and warmhearted grandmother (Nanny) and an affectionate aunt. Growing up in Ottawa she looked up to her two older brothers, Gerry and Teddy, formed a singular bond with her loving sister, Evelyn, and looked out for her younger brother Kenny. The family has always enjoyed stories of her days in Canada -- especially the winters which were filled with snow, hockey playing brothers, snowy walks to the outdoor hockey rink in the park, ice skating and other winter ventures. In her early twenties Shirley set out on an adventure that would mark the course of her life. She left Canada in the early fifties to join her sister Evelyn in Virginia, taking a job at the Canadian embassy in Washington DC, where her sister and brother-in-law, Wilf, worked. As a young woman working at the Canadian Embassy, Shirley was offered a ticket to an American Army Officer’s Ball. It was there that she met Berkeley, her husband-to-be of 65 years. They danced at the Ball and the rest is history. Soon, the two of them were off on an adventure of a lifetime – a honeymoon in New York City and their first home, a Chateau in France, near the base where Berkeley was stationed. It was in Europe that Shirley and Berkeley (Bud) nurtured their interest in travel – visiting England, Ireland, Germany, Italy and other Western European countries. In France they made the first addition to their family, Betinna -- a French Poodle who became their loving companion for 17 years. Upon return to the States, Shirley lived with her husband near the army base in Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri and then Fort Wayne, Indiana where Shirley helped Bud complete his undergraduate degree at Indiana Technical College. Next, they headed to Rockville, Maryland so they could build a family close to Shirley’s sister, Evelyn. Aunt Shirley and Uncle Bud very much enjoyed time with their nieces and nephew – buying the kids cool gifts and taking them golfing and bowling. In Maryland, Berkeley and Shirley added their own kids to the mix – John in 1965 and Edward in 1966. For the next 20+ years Shirley made the McKennon house a home -- in Rockville, MD, Vestal, NY and Wayne, NJ. Creating a magical home where their kids could grow in nurturing love and support became a life focus for Berkeley and Shirley. When the kids went off to (elementary) school, Shirley went with them -- as class mother, library assistant, field trip mom, and contributor to innumerable school plays, crafts, activities, and events. Shirley encouraged both her kids to learn an instrument, taking them to music lessons and -- on the good days -- having soft serve ice cream after the lessons at the local ice cream shop. When the kids became scouting age, Shirley jumped into supporting her sons and husband and they headed off to countless campouts. She sewed innumerable patches on uniforms as she watched both of her children attain scouting’s highest rank, Eagle. As the kids got older, Shirley became the consummate chauffeur to school events, friends houses, jobs, and sporting events. Shirley made sure her kids never missed an activity that was important to them. Meanwhile she extended the McKennon home to all the friends of John and Ed -- inviting them to dinners, barbecues, sleep-overs, small parties, and more. The warmth of the McKennon home extended into the community. Outside of school Shirley and Bud ensured the family was active in the local Methodist Church community. For brief periods Shirley and Bud sang in the choir and even joined the Bell Choir! Meanwhile, nearly every Sunday morning was spent in community at the church, with the kids in Sunday school. Of course, the church calendar was punctuated by the holidays and Shirley made these idyllic. Decking the halls, contributing all sorts of baked yummies, preparing family feasts, singing songs and making crafts all contributed to a sense of celebration and community for Christmas and Easter, but also Thanksgiving and Halloween, too. Holidays were when she really pulled family and friends close. Life was filled with regular trips to the Jersey shore, visiting family in Virginia and Canada, and weekend excursions to zoos, museums, amusement parks, and historic sites. Mom contributed travelling goodies, planning, and lots of fun to each of these events. Moreover, she supported the joy of endless summers by hosting cousins Maureen, Kenny, and Patricia, arranging activities including Summer Bible School, local movie theater series, summer bowling and more. Of course, letting the kids loose to play was important to Shirley, too. And she was always there with band aids to heal boyhood wounds and a pitcher of iced tea and popsicles to alleviate the summer heat as kids played in the neighborhood or dipped in the pool. While managing the routine of evening meals and clean-up, somehow Shirley managed to find time to sing along with Berkeley as he played 1970s easy listening hits on the family organ or help the kids with school projects or the fish tank before settling down to a bit of family TV viewing and bedtime for the kids. In the little time Shirley had on her own, she hung out with neighborhood friends, played Mahjong, joined bowling leagues (she once bowled a 593 series!), and participated in the local Methodist church women’s circle. In 1978 – in celebration of their 25 anniversary – Berkeley and Shirley continued their international travel by bringing the family on a trip to the Holy Lands. It is certain that this travel experience instilled in both sons a sense of travel and adventure and inspired a sense of wonder amid the lands described in the bible. The trip included visits to Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Rome as well as adventurous climbs on the pyramids, roaming through the kasbah in Jerusalem, and walking where Jesus walked. Part of Mom’s homemaking included being a gardener -- producing a robust crop of summer vegetables including tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers, and more. She was also a sewist -- altering pants, repairing clothes, sewing Boy Scout patches, as well as reupholstering furniture and designing curtains and costumes. Shirley was comfortable with a sewing machine. When the kids left home – Shirley and Berkeley went to Atlantic City often, enjoying the casinos and checking out various shows on a regular basis. Eventually, Berkeley and Shirley moved to the shore, bought a home on an inlet, and got themselves a boat. They loved tooling around the bay and estuary and feeding the ducks that visited the home. They enjoyed frequent visits from John, Jackie and their growing family. The grandkids were able to learn a bit about boating and felt the warmth of love in the home that they created. After a few years they moved back ‘north’ to Oak Ridge, NJ to be by their grandchildren. Nanny loved babies more than anything else and quickly took the youngest grandchild in her arms shortly after setting foot in Jackie and John’s home. She and Bud took the kids on outings such as Space Farms and attended many swim meets and birthday parties at Fuddruckers for the grandchildren. Shirley loved animals, always bonding with the local ‘wildlife’ by providing snacks including bread for the ducks at her home in Tuckerton as well as peanuts for the squirrels in Oak Ridge and other snacks for the chipmunks of Vestal, NY. Enduring love for her fury family members bookended her married life in Bettina, the poodle that she and her husband acquired in France during the early years of their union as well as a little maltese/poodle that Shirley adopted when her husband grew ill after more than 60 years of marriage. Tina became Shirley’s inseparable loving companion during nearly seven years of health challenges and gave her such comfort until her final days. Shirley and Bud moved to Sun City, Arizona, in 2014. As Bud’s health challenges worsened, they moved to assisted living near their son Ed and his partner Nicky Walker. These years were fraught with struggle associated with Parkinson’s Disease and dementia. Yet, there were great times as well. Shirley was a devoted, loving, and tireless caregiver to Berkeley. While in Sun City she enjoyed riding the shuttle to the community center with Berkeley and escaping into the joys of shopping, walking from one end of the mall to the other while ‘her boys’ (Ed and Berkeley) went bowling or sat and drank coffee. In Arizona, Shirley and Bud enjoyed big Walker family gatherings where they became surrogate grandparents to the extended Walker grandchildren. Shirley had a particular love for the littlest of the Walker clan -- Mikey, Evelyn, Annika, and Julian -- and enjoyed musical visits and ventures with the older Estrada girls, while commenting highly of the ‘good looking’ Estrada boys. During these years, Shirley and Bud enjoyed road trips around Arizona and beyond with Ed and Nicky, the Walker clan and, one year, a trip to Utah with John and Ronnie. Bud passed in 2018 but Shirley continued to enjoy life with Tina, Ed and Nicky despite her increasing health problems. She enjoyed trips to the Phoenix Symphony with Nicky & Ed’s nieces, visits to the Japanese Friendship Garden and Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and trips to restaurants and the casino. In her final months, Shirley moved into Ed and Nicky’s home where she enjoyed daily gourmet breakfasts and happy hours on the porch. She passed peacefully surrounded by family at The Ryan House soon after celebrating her 93rd birthday. Shirley was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 65 years, Berkeley McKennon, nieces Susan Muldoon Lowes and Debbie Schultz and nephew David Schultz. Shirley is survived by her son John, his wife Jackie and their four children – Berkeley, Ernest, Ronald, and Grace of Franklin, TN; his son Edward and his partner Nicky of Phoenix.
A private service is to be held in Shirley's honor.
In lieu of flowers please make a donation to the Lewy Body Dementia Association: Donate - https://www.lbda.org/donate/