Shirley Phyllis Simerly Whitehead

Published 10:57 am Monday, January 8, 2024

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Shirley Phyllis Simerly Whitehead was surrounded by her family as she slipped peacefully into the arms of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ on January 5, 2023.
Shirley was born prematurely at home to her parents on January 22, 1935. From her beginning she developed a determined spirit and a love of living that saw Shirley through many obstacles throughout her life and remained in her until the end.
She graduated from Hampton High School in 1953, and began working at Steinway Sewing Factory for 15 years. She then worked for K-Mart in Johnson City for 21 years until she retired.
Shirley loved people. She loved to talk and made friends wherever she went. She had the gift of making others feel comfortable and especially sought out the forgotten and lonely. She delighted in spending time with her family and traveling with them to 46 of the 50 states and Mexico. She especially enjoyed visiting beaches, lighthouses, and historical sites.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 65 years, Ed Whitehead; her mother, Nettie Berry Simerly Cornett; her father, Omar Simerly; two sisters, Barbara Miller and Wanda Brummett; and a special niece, Katherine Holsclaw.
She is survived by her only child, Deborah Shankle (David); two grandsons, David Ed Shankle (Victoria) and Daniel Shankle (Ashley); four great-grandchildren, David Robert, Emma, Edmund, and Kaelyn; a brother, Eston Simerly; special friends, Laura; Hazel, her walking buddy, Rhonda, Mamie, Jo, and the rest of her 1953 HHS classmates; and her Sinking Creek Church family. Several cousins, nieces and nephews also survive.
A Celebration of Life Service for Shirley will be conducted at 5 p.m. Wednesday, January 10, at Memorial Funeral Chapel with Pastor Chuck Babb and Pastor Greg Whitehead officiating. Music will be provided by Will Horton. The graveside service and interment will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, January 11, at Happy Valley Memorial Park. Active pallbearers will be grandsons and nephews. Honorary pallbearers will be Her church family and neighbors. The family will receive friends from 4 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, prior to the service. The family would like to offer a special thanks for the wonderful care provided by Dr. Amy Proffitt, Dr. Victoria Shankle and the staff at Hillview Health Center and the other rehab facilities that provided care for Shirley during the last two years. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Sinking Creek Baptist Church Building Fund in Shirley’s honor. Family and friends will assemble at the funeral home at 10:20 a.m. Thursday to go in procession to the cemetery. Condolences may be sent to the family at our website,
Memorial Funeral Chapel is serving the Whitehead family.

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