Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shirley Margit Elford

A photo of her taken from her Memorial Service Order of Service

Today, November 20, 2011, a memorial service was held at  Liuna Station for Shirley Margit Elford.

A private family service had been held prior to this public memorial.  Shirley was a well known and much loved Hamiltonian.  She was born on August 4, 1943 and died November 10, 2011.

She had been battling ovarian cancer for several years now with courage and determination.  Her strong faith stood her in good stead in this period of time.  She lived out her Christian  (Lutheran) faith in her daily life and how she treated others.

 Liuna's auditorium was packed with very few seats remaining unfilled.  I will  name a few of Shirley's contributions and achievements here.

     President Women's Art Association of Hamilton
     Chair Art Selection Committee Hamilton Public Library
     Board Memver - Glass Art Society UA
     President Theatre Aquarius
     Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation Board
     Art Gallery of Hamilton Board Member
     Board of Governors - Art Gallery of Hamilton
     Hamilton Community Foundation Board
     Co-chair with Hon. Lincoln Alexander Strengthening Hamilton Community Initiative
     The Women of Distinction (YWCA)
     Woman of the Year in the Arts - City of Hamilton
     The Hamilton Gallery of Distinction.

Shirley's motto which guided her life was "Loving humankind.".

She was a  daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a world famous glass blower, but above all else, she was a loving and caring human being who made friends wherever she went.

I first met Shirley at the former Henderson Hospital in February of 2006 where we were both patients in the Rehab Unit to get our mobility back.  Shirley had had a fall outside in the dead of winter and lay on the lawn unable to get help as her husband  Gerry could not hear her call for help.  By her sheer determination, she crawled from the spot she had fallen and up the stairs to the front door in spite of a broken hip.  

There were two in our room at the time and they made space for Shirley by bringing in another bed.  Nancy, Shirley and I got along very well.  After we left the hospital, we kept in touch by phone and via Facebook.

I remember when her Glass exhibition opened at The Art Gallery.  Her daughters came in and helped her dress and a wheelchair accessible cab took them to the opening night.  In spite of her pain, her determination once again showed through and she was there for the event.

Another recollection of the time we spent together in Rehab was when we both cried together over a sad movie about Alzheimers as both of us had been touched by family members with this disease.  Shirley was a gentle soul but that did not mean she was a pushover!

She got things done and was a respected and loved figure here in Hamilton.  I have never seen so many people come out to a memorial service as I did today.

Let me describe the service.

Piper Jim Stewart played the Lament as we all stood for the beginning of the service. It was so beautiful.  Her brother Bud Sinclair welcomed everybody on behalf of the family.  The Editor of The Spectator, Dana Robbins spoke of Shirley as a Community Leader.  He also gave special mention to Lincoln Alexander, the former Ontario Governor General  who was present.  In fact, he arrived when I did, and I held the door open for him as he was pushed in his wheelchair by his new wife.

There also was music by Michael Mancini and Phil Rose who played and sang, "On Eagles Wings."  It was very well done.

Diane Brokenshire spoke about her long and intimate friendship with Shirley and brought up some humourous things which people seemed to enjoy.

Sarah Gueverra sang one of Shirley favourite songs "Angel".  This young lady sang like an angel and it touched many people.

Ann Elford spoke about her Mom and something that brought tears to my eyes, was when they played Jerry and Shirley's special song that they used to dance to "Perhaps Love."  They were so much in love with each other, sharing life as it came through sickness and health.

I thought this was very endearing when her four grandchildren came up to the front and one of them spoke about his grandmother. Everybody applauded them.

Pastor C. Dechert, a Lutheran pastor whom I know, said a beautiful prayer for Shirley and her family and friends. He is a personal friend of the whole family.

The last word, though was by Shirley herself.  She appeared on the screen and talked to all of us and told people how much she had appreciated us.  At this stage, it was hard not to cry and I saw a lot of people, including men, dabbing their faces.

Amazing Grace was played by Piper Jim Stewart to close off the service and guests were invited into the next room for refreshments.

It has been a very moving day and one I will not forget.

Thanks for reading this blog and I hope I gave you a little glimpse into the life of a good lady who made a difference.

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