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Shirley Virgene Brown, born June 11, 1932, passed away Sunday, May 12, 2013, at Mount Ayr Health Care at 80 years, 11 months and one day of age. Shirley was the eldest daughter of Clifford Warren and Emma Lorene (Glazebrook) Brown and was born at home in Grand River, Iowa.

Shirley spent her life helping others and being active in professional and community organizations. She enjoyed her friends and family, especially her nieces and nephews and their children. She also enjoyed cooking and was always trying something new.

Shirley was a school teacher at heart and really enjoyed teaching small children. In 1949, at the age of 16, she graduated from Grand River high school. After graduation she attended Creston Junior College and at age 18 returned to Grand River to teach at Comstock and Diamond country schools for seven years. In 1958 she moved to Modesto, California, where she taught hearing impaired children in the Ceres Unified School system. After many evening and summer classes, she obtained her bachelor of arts degree in 1962 from Stanislaus State College in Turlock, California.

In 1986 Shirley was one of 20 teachers awarded the School Bell Award for teaching and organization by the Stanislaus County Chapter of the California Teachers Association (CTA). All teachers were selected by their peers. More than 200 teachers, administrators, board members and supporters from 11 county districts gathered to honor the recipients. Local legislators sent their staffers to present each recipient with a plaque. In addition, each award winner also received a small golden apple bell and a plaque from the CTA. At the end of the evening, the awards committee selected Shirley as the grand award winner.

After 28 years of teaching, Shirley returned to Grand River and was very active in the life of the community. She was a member of the committee responsible for moving the country school to the city park to be used as a community museum. She served on the city council, volunteered at the meal site, helped with elections, solicited food and help for funeral dinners as needed and was a member of the Grand River United Methodist Church. Shirley wished the Grand River community could have a library, especially for the children. Since she has been in Mount Ayr Health Care, a library has been added to the community center.

Shirley was preceded in death by her parents, Clifford and Emma Brown; two brothers-in-law, Robert Bolte and Gordon Merical, and two very close friends, Dorothy Seguin and Darlene Cason.

She leaves behind her sisters and brother, Marilyn Bolte of West Des Moines, Iowa, Merna and Richard Schwalbe of Grand River, Iowa, Wayne and Suzanne Brown of Pleasant Hill, Iowa and Irene Merical of Adel, Iowa; 10 nephews and nieces, and many friends here and in California.

A celebration of life service was planned for Wednesday, May 15, 2013, at Slade O’Donnell Funeral Home in Leon, Iowa. A memorial fund has been established at the Grand River Community Center, 13989 110th Ave., Grand River, IA 50108 in her name or at HCI, the Mount Ayr office.


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