| Shirley Atchison Wells, 94
St. Cloud, MN
March 16, 1925 – August 23, 2019
Shirley A. Wells died peacefully at the age of 94 on August 23, 2019, in St. Cloud, Minnesota. She was born on March 16, 1925, in Fremont, Ohio. Shirley lived many places growing up, including homesteading in Arizona as a young child, Niagara Falls, NY, where she developed a love of figure skating and Princeton, NJ, where Shirley became an accomplished figure skater and a top student.
Shirley graduated from Princeton High School in 1943 as valedictorian of her class. She went on to Oberlin College, where she graduated with a Political Science Degree in 1947. She then went to Washington D.C. for one year, to serve as an intern for several senators. While at Oberlin, she met her future husband, Rev. John F. Wells (Jack). They married in 1948 in New Haven, Connecticut, while Jack was attending Yale Divinity School. In New Haven, Shirley held a variety of positions, including teaching Latin at a private girl’s school and working as a buyer for a local department store.
Shirley and Jack served Presbyterian churches throughout the country and overseas. Locations included Darnestown, Maryland; Claymont, Delaware; Billings, Montana; Kearney, Nebraska; and Pocatello, Idaho. They also served parishes in New Zealand and Australia before retiring to Billings, Montana in 1990.
During their early marriage, Shirley was primarily focused on raising their family of four daughters - Barbara, Wendy, Bonnie and Cindy. The family enjoyed camping in national parks throughout the country. Their home was the place everyone wanted to hang out as Shirley hosted neighborhood gatherings, circle meetings, League of Women Voters’ meetings, birthday parties, and 4-H Club meetings. As the girls grew older, Shirley was employed in many different positions in the communities in which they lived. In Kearney, Shirley was a child advocate for the court system. In Pocatello, Shirley worked as the Director of Campfire International and later as the Executive Director of the Heart Association for Central Idaho. Shirley was the co-founder of the Habitat for Humanity chapter in Billings, Montana.
In retirement, Jack and Shirley enjoyed reading, swimming in Montana’s Senior Olympics, theater, travel, volunteer work, and visiting friends, family, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Since November 2015, Shirley has resided in St. Cloud, MN, where daughter Barb could assist her with her day to day affairs.
Shirley is preceded in death by her parents, Thomas and Ida Atchison, brothers, Tom and Bob, and husband, Jack. She is survived by her four daughters: Barb (Steve) Ludwig of St. Cloud, MN, Wendy (Bob) Ennis of Omaha, NE, Bonnie (Tony) Ranno of Portland, OR, and Cindy (Rod) Howells of Gooding, ID, eight grandchildren and eight great grandchildren, two sisters-in law and many nieces and nephews.
A celebration of Shirley’s life will be held next summer in Montana, the state she loved deeply and always considered her home.