Shirley Jean Valdez of Oak Harbor passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of Nov. 6, 2018, at HomePlace, with husband of 67 years, Val, at her side, as well as her only son Robert and his longtime partner Toni Sisneros.
Shirley Jean Valdez was born on Aug. 21, 1927, in the small town of Ironton, Ohio, right along the Ohio River, to John and Jessie Booth. Her mother Jessie was a “stay-at-home” mom. Shirley’s dad worked for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. She had one sister, Lois, who was three years older and preceded her in death.
Shirley lived through the Great Depression, when so many people were out of work. She saw a lot of changes. In those days no one had a refrigerator, they had ice boxes, and ice was delivered by horse and wagon. Milk and eggs were delivered the same way.
In high school, she was a member of the National Honor Society. After school, she worked at various jobs in Ohio, but as she neared 21, she told her herself she needed to try something new, so she decided to join the Navy, which led to a happy chain of events. Upon completing boot camp, she was assigned to a training center in San Diego. It was there that she met Val, who checked her in to the division and would later become her husband.
After about a year dating, they got married in Yuma, Ariz. After she was discharged, she was later able to join her husband in Iwakuni, Japan, where he was stationed. They lived in Japan for two years before the Navy sent them back to San Diego. Before checking in at San Diego, they went to Oklahoma to visit family. While there, they adopted Bob, who was 22 months old at the time, and the son of one of Val’s sisters, Delpha. She said Bob was the “love of her life.”
In 1957, the Navy moved them again, and they put down stakes in Oak Harbor, where they stayed until 1969, when the Navy sent the family to Kingsville, Texas. In Kingsville, Shirley worked at the Navy Exchange buying clothes, shoes and other items for the store. After two years in Kingsville, the family returned to Oak Harbor, where she later became the buyer for five Navy Exchanges.
Oak Harbor became their permanent home.
Shirley was happiest in the outdoors hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, picking mushrooms and just enjoying nature. Every spring, she and Val would pack up their travel trailer and drive across the state to Little Diamond Lake near Spokane to fish. They never came away empty handed. They also made annual trips over the Cascade Highway to Wenatchee to pick all kinds of fruit that she always shared with the neighbors.
Shirley canned, loved to cook, made amazing biscuits and sent her yummy jellies across the United States to friends and family. She always had a book to read and especially liked romance novels. She loved to write letters and embraced computers and email until her failing vision made it too difficult.
Her later years were challenging as she struggled with poor vision, hearing and dementia. Despite this, she never complained.
Shirley spent a short time at HomePlace Memory Care in Oak Harbor, where she was treated with respect and kindness by the staff and management.
She was the kindest person who wouldn’t hesitate to help those less fortunate. She lived a full and truly amazing life and will be deeply missed by those who knew and loved her.
A celebration of life will take place at 11 a.m. Nov. 17, at Wallin Funeral Home, 1811 N.E. 16th Ave., Oak Harbor. Friends and family are invited to view photos, share memories and hear a brief service.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Help House in Oak Harbor, which provides assistance to those in need in our community, or your choice supporting dementia research.
Arrangements entrusted to Wallin Funeral Home, Oak Harbor, WA. Please visit Shirley’s page in the Book of Memories online at www.wallinfuneralhome.com to share memories and leave condolences.