Shirley Winchel

Shirley Winchel (Lefor)

Sunday, February 3rd, 1935 - Monday, July 27th, 2020
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Shirley Jean Winchel passed away peacefully on July 27, 2020, at home. She was a beloved mom, Nana, GiGi, sister, aunt, and friend that will be greatly missed.

Shirley was born on February 3, 1935 in Dickinson, ND to Nicholas and Pauline Lefor. She attended Catholic school in Lefor, ND, and graduated as the only girl in a class of six. During childhood Shirley spent most of her days at the St. Elizabeth Queen of the Prairie Church in Lefor and had many fond memories of that time. Shirley also enjoyed spending every June as a child fishing in Minnesota and Manitoba, Canada. This is where she developed her passion of fishing. A passion she passed on to her family.

On January 18, 1958, she married Peter D. Winchel, the love of her life. The couple started their life together in Williston, ND then moved to Wichita Falls, TX. After an encounter with a scorpion they decided to make their home in Western Montana. They settled in Missoula and raised their family on Charlott Street. Shirley and Pete were active in many clubs in Missoula and spent most of their time with their children. They were involved with Missoula Little League, Little Grizzly Football and belonged to the Jaycee organization. Shirley and Pete were excellent dancers and would cut a rug when the opportunity presented itself. Shirley was an excellent piano player and would still play regularly on her eclectic keyboard. Shirley was also an avid card and game player. The camaraderie of playing with friends and family was one of her greatest joys in life.

Shirley was a jack of all trades and had multiple different jobs during her long life. Her last job was the Assistance Activities Coordinator at the Village Senior Residence. She would often regale family with stories of her friends at work and how she earned the nickname “Whirley Shirley”. All those who met her became immediately enamored with her quick wit and loving heart.

When asked to write a letter to her granddaughter, Shirley wrote her five most important things to put first in life. She wrote “First of all if you put God first – all will be fine!”
1.) God
2.) Family and Friends
3.) Kindness and Love
4.) Sense of Humor
5.) Fishing
This is truly how Shirley lived her live. Others were always first, and everyone was loved.

Preceding her in death were her beloved husband Pete Winchel, her parents Nicholas and Pauline Lefor, sister Eleanor Schiff, brothers Herbie Lefor and Freddy Lefor.

Shirley is survived by daughters Teri (Tom) Blakely, Cari (Kevin) Fulbright, son Mickey (Dee) Winchel along with seven grandchildren, Taylor (Nikki), Tomi (Garrett), Tyler, Kennedy (Luke), Zanon, Tucker, and Gradey. She was fortunate to share time with her great-grandchildren, Jaycee, Brooklyn, Blakely, and Landon, as well as many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, August 7, 2020 at 10 a.m. at Garden City Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, you may make a donation in Shirley’s name to The Humane Society of Western Montana.

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Service Details

  • Service

    Friday, August 7th, 2020 | 10:00am
    Friday, August 7th, 2020 10:00am
    Garden City Funeral Home & Crematory
    1705 West Broadway
    MISSOULA, MT 59808
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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GORDY, LORRAINE. GUY, PAUL sent flowers to the family of Shirley Winchel (Lefor).
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Don Crawford

Posted at 12:58pm
Always loved when Aunt Shirley would sometimes meet Gram and I when I would go play Bingo with Gram during my time at U of M. Those grown women acted like teenage girls! So fun!


Posted at 03:52pm
Please accept our most heartfelt sympathies for your loss... Our thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.
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GORDY, LORRAINE. GUY, PAUL purchased flowers for the family of Shirley Winchel. Send Flowers


Darcie Vasquez

Posted at 01:56am
Shirley was a second mom to me, growing up in Missoula, MT from 5th grade through college and beyond. My fondest memories of Shirl include raiding her stellar “candy drawer” -a narrow, child-accessible drawer located in the kitchen, reliably stockpiled with tasty treats. You always asked, out of respect, if you could get into the candy drawer, and her answer was always a resounding, yes! Shirl loved me as her own, and I always felt loved, valued, safe, and welcome in her home. Shirl had a great sense of humor, and would giggle at Cari and my “antics” any chance she got. Shirl was a precious, petite, beautiful lady who made a positive impact on my life. I know Shirl is looking down on her children and grandchildren thankful and joyful at the legacy she so carefully planted. I love you Shirl.

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