Valley Lives - Shirley Dufour

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the July 02, 2014 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Nearly New... nearly a saint...

by Anastasia Philopoulos

Shirley Dufour would take special requests when she worked at the Nearly New in Chelsea.

Her husband, Larry Dufour, still remembers the phone calls from Chelsea folks looking for a specific second-hand item; a child's snowsuit for example, size 5, preferably in blue. And sure enough, Shirley would find what you were looking for.

Valley Lives
Shirley Dufour

"[It] was amazing," Larry recalled. "She would always find it... she loved helping people."

The Chelsea couple met when they were 'just youngsters' in high school and spent 52 years happily married. Larry says their five kids kept them quite busy over the years, but fondly remembers how often Shirley was often at his side, lending a hand. When he flipped steaks at a golf tournament barbecue, Shirley was making the salad. When he was coaching outdoor hockey for one of their kid's teams, Shirley was right next to him, freezing her toes off to show support.

After the love of her family, came the love she had for the Nearly New. Located in the basement of the Chelsea United Church, Shirley devoted hours upon hours to sorting secondhand clothing and chatting with friendly customers. Larry says that she was an engaged community member on the whole, volunteering whenever she could, and always lending a hand at United Church events.

"She was passionate about the community, it was very important to her," Larry said. "She never really wanted any credit for it either."

But credit found her anyway. In 2006 the municipality of Chesea awarded Shirley with 'Citizen of the Year' and in 2008 the West Quebec School Board gave her an award for 'Outstanding Community Service.'Shirley worked for a number of years for the school board in administration, but her real passion lay in helping out her friends and neighbours.

According to long-time friend, Sandra Garbutt, Shirley's dedication to community was what made her special. "She would do anything for anybody," Garbutt said. "It was what made her a pillar of the community."

From Grade 3 on, the pair attended catholic school together in Chelsea. Garbutt says they would take turns walking the hour-long distance to visit each other at home and even recalls their weekly ritual of walking or hitchhiking into town to visit their favourite Chelsea restaurant, no longer standing. "We'd play the jukebox and buy an ice cream," Garbutt remembered. "It was all very innocent fun."

Garbutt says that everyone knew Shirley in Chelsea, a testament to how involved she was in the community.

Family and friends can pay their respects at Kelly Funeral Home in Ottawa on July 2 from 2-4 p.m and 7-9 p.m. A funeral service will be held July 3 at St. Stephen's Church in Chelsea starting at 11 a.m.

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