Obituary of Shirley M. Gillenwalters
Shirley Margaret Gillenwalters, age 97, passed away on 12/27/2023. She was, as her niece Barb described her, an “Angel on Earth”.
Shirley was born in Plattsburgh, NY to Mary Agnes (Primard) and Floyd McGee and was the beloved sister to Jeanne (John) Harrington and Floyd “Skip” (Dorothy) McGee and grew up in Long Lake, NY. Shirley was the loving wife of William M. Gillenwalters and mother of David (Diane) Gillenwalters, Debra (Ronald) Holcomb, Dana (Lynn) Gillenwalters, Craig (Connie) Gillenwalters, Mark (Julie) Gillenwalters; grandmother to 14 (Brandon, Adam & Brittney Holcomb, Keith, Jill, Kevin, Lisa, DanaLynn, Gina, Jesse, Brooke, John, Luke and Amanda Gillenwalters) and great-grandmother to 11 (Bailey, Zachary, Samantha, Javier, Dylan, Peyton, Evan, Paris, Carter, Kaiden & Garrett). She was Aunt Shirley to so many including Barb, Kap, Dawn, David & Jeannie & many more. She was so close to her nieces that she considered them her daughters.
After graduating from Long Lake High School, she attend Plattsburgh Business School & then she & Jeanne headed to the big city (Albany) to work all week and took the bus home every Friday for the Saturday night dance!
Shirley loved life, her family, friends, laughter, baking, gambling, dancing, sewing doll clothes and Christmas quilts for us, knitting sweaters, hats & gloves when we were young, crafting, hosting parties, Christmas, traveling and making everyone feel at home and part of her family. But Shirley loved giving most of all. Giving of herself and anything she had that could help someone else. The unconditional love and caring she gave our dad as he battled Alzheimer’s over 15 years was something to behold and we hope we are all as lucky to have someone like her in our lives.
She absolutely loved Christmas and every year she created Christmas magic. From cramming the neighbors and us “older” kids into our station wagon to drive to midnight mass in a massive snow storm, to reading us “The Night Before Christmas” every night of the week leading up to Christmas & ensuring each of us got at least one thing we really wanted or needed. She will always be the best teacher of how to celebrate that Christmas spirit all year long. For me, she will always be the best Santa!
Shirley loved cooking, especially any day Skip was in town and those thanksgiving days cooking with Dana and enjoying cocktails as they prepared the feast. But baking was her specialty. Her homemade pies were to die for as were her rolls and cookies. You were so lucky when you stopped by as she was always quick to offer you something to drink and a piece of pie or cookie. Her love of cooking was passed on to her sons, Dana, Craig & Mark who excel at it, while David and Debby knew to stay out of the way and watch the masters at work.
She loved traveling everywhere and anywhere with Jeanne, Skip, etc, and the many laughs they had along the way. She loved spending the winter months in Florida at Barb’s with her siblings, Jeanne and Skip. But her favorite trips were taking the family to Long Beach Island and Atlantic City, laughing on the beach during the day and hitting the casinos all night. Shirley was very lucky. She especially loved to play craps on a table full of family. She was a hot roller and we all wanted her on our table or to pick us a horse or sit at our slot machine. She really loved spontaneous trips to the casino with family and friends.
Shirley loved playing poker, pitch, pinochle, any card game and scrabble multiple days a week with family and friends. She and our gramma were responsible for grandsons Brandon (3rd grade) and Adam (kindergarten) missing the school bus because they were all playing poker. She also loved crossword puzzles and completed multiple crosswords everyday until her eyesight failed her.
We’d like to thank everyone for the unconditional love and support you gave our mother. Especially Barb, Kap, Dawn for always loving her and being there for her whenever and wherever it was needed. And the “outlaws” (Ron, Diane, Connie, Lynn & Julie) for loving and supporting her and us for years. If possible, I believe she loved the outlaws more than us! Also, her assistant, Grace, who was literally a lifesaver over the last several months. She truly felt loved and lived a full and charmed life! She will be missed by us all, but we take comfort knowing she is once again with our dad, Dana, Kevin, her parents, and the many family and friends that greeted her with angel wings. I believe she needed to get to heaven today to greet her great nephew, Kerry, with a birthday cake. We love you so much, you are truly unforgettable!
A celebration of Shirley’s life will be held for family and friends at the family’s convenience in mid 2024. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in her honor to the: Voorheesville Area Ambulance, 21 Voorheesville Ave, Voorheesville, NY 12186; Community Hospice Foundation, Inpatient Unit, 310 South Manning Blvd., Albany, NY 12208; American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (ASFP), 199 Water Street, 11th Floor, NY, NY 10038