Valley Lives - Shirley Shouldice

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the December 20, 2017 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Determined Wakefielder had a zest for life

By Nicole McCormick

If you ever wanted something done in Wakefield, there's a good chance you asked Shirley Shouldice for help at one time or another.

"Shirley was what I'd call an expeditor," said close friend Sharon Rounds. "She got things done. She'd see a way to get it going and she'd make sure she followed it through."

Shirley Shouldice
Shirley Shouldice shows off a gift from the Golden Age committee in appreciation for her long service as president in 2011. Low Down file photo.

Widely known as a community leader in Wakefield for more than 30 years, Shouldice worked on projects like the preservation of the Wakefield Spring and served on the committee that worked to install Wakefield's Cenotaph in Peace Park in 2000. She was also heavily involved in the Wakefield recreation and community associations, the Wakefield United Church, and, most notably, the Wakefield Golden Age Club - she served as president of the club for 30 years, stepping down in 2011, but remained active in the organization until her death just months shy of her 90th birthday.

And according to friends, she did it all while maintaining a youthful glow, perfectly coordinated, fashionable ensembles, a fresh manicure, and a twinkle in her eye.

"She had that sparkle to her that you just couldn't help but be attracted to," said Rounds.

"She had a wonderful sense of colour and style and was always perfectly turned out. Not that she was even consciously doing it. That's just the way she was."

Lifelong friend Anita Rutledge also admired Shouldice's love of fashion, telling the Low Down that "she dressed with a flare... She had... bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and she usually wore them at all times," said Rutledge.

Born and raised on a farm in Radford just outside of Shawville, Shouldice (then Armstrong) and Rutledge were first acquainted as kids back in 1938 during a "Saturday night in Shawville" shopping ritual. The two immediately hit it off and would form an unbreakable friendship that spanned nearly 80 years.

And while they didn't always stay in touch during various points in life, they remained close and Rutledge looks back fondly on their youthful adventures as typical, boy-crazed teenagers while attending Shawville High School and sharing a boarding room together.

"We would giggle at everything we saw, window shop, and check out the best-looking guys," wrote Rutledge to Shouldice in a message on her birthday.

The two eventually parted ways when Shouldice moved to Wakefield at the tender age of 15 to teach at a one-room schoolhouse after obtaining a special permit from the Department of Education. Shouldice had skipped a grade in primary school, so she graduated from high school at a younger age than the rest of her classmates. After graduation, she went on to work in Lascelles, Alcove, and the Stevenson School just east of Wakefield, and it was during this time that she met the love of her life, Lorne Shouldice, a WWII veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy who passed away in 2003.

Shirley Shouldice
Shouldice with friends Ruth Leppard, Lois Wilson and Ruth Lamarre at Collines Health Garden Party in 2014. Low Down file photo.

The pair would go on to date for several years before marrying and settling down in Ottawa where Lorne worked for Bell Canada and Shouldice was a stay-at-home mom to their three boys who all worshipped their mother, according to Rounds.

As her children grew, Shouldice took a job on Parliament Hill as an aid to foreign dignitaries for nearly a decade before retiring with her husband and returning to Wakefield in 1982.

After retirement, Shouldice became well known as a pillar of the community, with her name appearing countless times in the pages of this newspaper. And even during her later years, she never slowed down or used her age as an excuse. She had her own way of doing things and embraced change like a new friend.

"She was a determined person," said Rutledge.

"She expected to do things to make sure they were right," added Rounds, who first met Shouldice while volunteering with the annual hospital garden party fundraiser in 2008. "She didn't ask somebody to do it for her."

Rounds recalls that in 2013 the West Quebec United Church members from seven churches throughout the region voted to dissolve each individual board and join together as one, which didn't sit well with some members.

"All the older people didn't want to change things," said Rounds, but not Shouldice, who said, "this is a new way of doing it and look at all the friends we're going to make."

"That's the way she embraced change," said Rounds. "She was so young thinking."

Besides her impressive list of volunteer endeavours, Shouldice was also an avid bridge player and hosted many games at her beloved Pike Lake cottage. And although she was competitive and "never missed a trick," she didn't like to win if it meant that it would hurt another player's feelings.

"I've seen her make mistakes on purpose because she felt this other person was taking it the wrong way," said Rounds.

While reflecting on her many years of friendship with Shouldice, Rutledge maintains that her favourite memory of her dear friend was simply her loyal friendship.

"I could phone her at any time... we could chat for hours," said Rutledge. "I think that's really the favourite memory, just knowing that we could talk about anything."

Along with her mile-long list of friends and admirers, Shouldice brought her own unique way of doing things to Wakefield that can't be matched and will be greatly missed.

"You don't often meet a Shirley," said Rounds. "There's a hole left in every club or organization in Wakefield."

Shirley Shouldice is survived by her three children, Gregory, Jeffrey, and Brian Shouldice, and grandchildren Christopher, Jeffrey, and Jennifer, and great-granddaughter Annabelle Brady.

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