Shirley Annette Dueck (nee Loewen), age 81, passed away October 11, 2020 at the Grace Hospital in Winnipeg.
She is survived by her husband Henry, their children, Carson (Mara) and Allan (Mimi); grandchildren, Dylan, Daria, Ethan and Ben. She is also survived by her sister, Iris Toews (Bernie) and Sandra Dueck (John); in-laws, Karen Loewen, Nettie Dueck, Margaret Chambers, Betty & Gerry Patterson, Peter & Dina Dueck, Bob Dueck, Grace & Garry Klassen, George & Ann Dueck, and Vern & Barb Dueck. She was predeceased by her parents, John and Margaret Loewen and her brother Burton.
Shirley was born in Giroux, Manitoba and moved to Steinbach when she was in grade 3. I envied Shirley when I was growing up. She was dainty, beautiful, popular. And she played the violin. And she had the most beautiful clothes.
Faith and church have always had a central place in Shirley’s life. As soon as she was old enough to do so, she taught Sunday School and sang, alto, in the church choir.
After high school she worked at her father’s furniture store for a year, and then she went to Omaha, Nebraska to attend Grace Bible School. Upon her return to Steinbach she worked as a bookkeeper at Reimer’s Dress Shop and again became immersed in church work.
And then Shirley found herself strongly attracted to a fellow left-hander, especially when this left-hander, Henry, gifted her with a pair of left-handed scissors. Another gift to Shirley, after they were engaged, was a freezer. The goal was to fill it before they got married. They were married on October 16, 1964 (was the freezer full? I don’t know) and settled in Steinbach where Carson (1967) and Allan (1969) were born. Those were busy years for Shirley. She was a model homemaker, did bookkeeping at home for a number of clients, and continued helping out at church.
In 1981, after many years of puzzling health episodes, Shirley was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This was devastating news. It took a while to find a treatment that would work for her. It meant a huge readjustment in thinking about how life would unfold. Shirley’s mother-in-law was a big support to Shirley at this time and they became very close.
And then in 1986 Henry and Shirley’s lives changed again when they closed their business, sold their house and moved to Winnipeg. Here they became part of a caring neighborhood and were accepted into a wonderful church (Shirley served as church librarian - browsed virtually every book in the library).
Shirley was an excellent knitter – family members are still wearing sweaters she knitted; a copious record keeper – the birthdays and anniversaries of everyone important to her, and there were lots, were recorded so she could remember and acknowledge these days; an exceptional gardener – many of the plants in their magazine perfect garden were started under the grow lights in the basement; and an accomplished cook and baker – remember all the canned jars of soup on the shelf in the basement, and how thinly rolled out her oatmeal cookies were? Everything she did was precise, meticulous, and artistic.
Shirley had an eye for detail. When Shirley’s motor coordination wasn’t there to fit the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle in place, she would look, point to a piece and tells us where it went. And she would be right. She was amazing at it.
Shirley had a mischievous sense of humor, a twinkle in her eye, and a smile that could light up a room. She was fun to be with. I remember the last time she was at my house her face broke out in a big grin and her eyes twinkled. I couldn’t get what she was saying but it must have been good.
Shirley loved and appreciated her friends. They were Food For The Soul. And that is what she named the collection of her and her friends’ favorite recipes she compiled into a book.
Shirley loved her family. They were her world, and she was so proud of all their accomplishments. She lived for their visits, skypes and phone calls. Fortunately Shirley had very good computer skills.
And she loved Henry. He was her rock. Shirley dried all those bouquets, usually roses, he gave her on special occasions, and displayed them on the top shelf of their bookcase. Those after supper wheelchair rides through the neighborhood with Henry were very special to her.
Above all, Shirley loved her Lord. Prayer was central to her life. This is a quote from the recipe book she compiled:
As I contemplated the past number of years and the friendships made over coffee, Bible Study and prayer, I can truly say, “Praise the Lord” for the way each one of you has touched my heart and life. In the last few years most of us have become caught in the squeeze of being in the so called “Sandwich Generation”. Our concern for our aging parents and the on going lives of our children have been placed before Our Lord in group prayer and then taken home with each one to be placed on our individual prayer lists. We have spent time together in prayer; in rejoicing and in tears over heartaches and losses that confronted us. The Lord has heard and answered.
Shirley’s MS progressed, and then Alzheimer's set in, and then on September 13th she had a stroke and was hospitalized. She passed away on October 11.
And here we are today.
How do you remember Shirley? What gifts did she share with you? Can you see her grinning face? Hear her laugh and her “Na yo”?
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