In October, 2006, Shirley Anderson left her home near Erie, Pennsylvania, to live with her daughter, Gail Lincoln, in Rowan County. Shirley had experienced a life-threatening fall and spent days on life support followed by a month in an Erie rehabilitation facility. Clearly she could no longer live alone.
The Rowan County community was unfailingly kind to this quiet white-haired lady in a wheelchair. Among the special memories: Dr. Wayne Morella always asked “And how’s Grandma today?” at Extension Council and District meetings. Doug Doerrfeld, Collin Alexander or Chris Merritt cheerfully pushed Shirley’s wheelchair up the steep hill at the Episcopal church for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth meetings. Strangers stopped to talk with her as Gail pushed Shirley’s accessible cart at Kroger’s. Shirley greatly enjoyed Debbie Link’s conversation at Elite Hairstyles, but slept through the computer classes at the library. As an individual who had been around the world and at various times had visited all seven continents, the OSHER travel classes appealed to Shirley for several years.
As Shirley’s dementia progressed, the Alzheimer’s Support Group at St. Claire, led by Mary Horsley and Marlene Blankenbuehler, became an increasingly important source of information and comfort. Gateway ADD helped with respite when Shirley was no longer able to travel with Gail to Cincinnati to bring her granddaughter, who is blind, home for visits. Angie Brown and Tammy at Morehead Primary Care always responded quickly and dependably when called. Near the end, Hospice stepped in when most needed and nurse, Jessi Gulley and aide, Rhonda Lewis were present when Shirley died peacefully on Wednesday, January 23rd, at her daughter’s home.
Shirley lived in Rowan County 12 ½ years and was nearly 96 when she died. She was buried the next day, January 24th, in Erie, Pennsylvania in a beautiful oak casket fashioned 7 years earlier by neighbor and master craftsman, Tom Cooper. Tom was assisted with the interior bunting by his wife, Peg, who also often came to read the Bible to Shirley. Incredible coordination by Michael Gray and his staff with the pastor and funeral home in Erie, Pennsylvania was responsible for the 8-hour transport, lovely church service and burial within 27 hours of her death.
There were many people who were so gracious and kind to this gentle person who had a lovely smile but rarely spoke. Her daughter and family cannot thank each of you enough and we will be forever grateful to the Rowan County community.