Shirley Mae Aitken, 71, passed away peacefully, surrounded by her loving family, on February 19, 2022 in Missoula, Montana. She was born on January 21, 1951 in Glasgow, Montana to Hulda Mae (Fuhrmann) Tade and Richard Allen Aitken. Shirley grew up in Glasgow, surrounded by her many siblings, cousins and friends and graduated from Glasgow High School in 1969. She left home to attend college at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA and went on to graduate from the University of Montana in 1977 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education.
Our dear Shirley was quite a traveler in the early years, and was often described as beautiful and spry, with a witty sense of humor. She certainly wasn’t afraid of adventure and made a friend everywhere she went. It is no surprise her life included a time as a labor & delivery nurse, a summer in Kansas City driving an ice cream truck, a stretch in Portland living on the beach, and an apartment in the heart of New York City where she went to photography school. No matter where she was, Shirley surrounded herself with good friends and good times. Her friends will tell you, Shirley never left an event where she didn’t provide you with some bit of comic material, or at least a one liner.
Once she did settle down, Shirley made Missoula her home. Her little house on Central Avenue was her sanctuary and expressed quintessential Shirley. With a backdrop of Jazz or Classical Piano, it was filled with art, photographs and furnishings that captured her soul. Being no slave to convention, her home was filled with joy and beauty, fun and her own fancy tastes. Her artistic eye extended to her garden where she enjoyed beautiful flowers. Shirley lived 30 years in the university area and felt the strong community in her neighborhood and the love of her kind, generous and caring neighbors.
Shirley’s professional working life included years teaching in rural Western Montana and summers spent on nearby Flathead Lake. Once she was back in Missoula, she did a stint in the corporate world at Edulog, providing technical writing for the school bus routing software company. Her love and knack with computers lead to her job with Missoula County Public Schools in their computer technical support department. She spent many years helping the wonderful Teachers at Hellgate and Sentinel High School before retiring in 2015. Shirley enjoyed the many strong friendships she made during this time.
In retirement, Shirley found her way back to our childhood church, St. Paul Lutheran Church here in Missoula. She was grateful for the support and kindness she found in Pastor Chris and the church family there and became a part of their Funeral Compassion team, sharing her comfort and support.
Shirley had a strong love for her family; always there for each of us whenever we needed her. For her younger nieces she held a special place. She was especially close to her niece Tessa in Missoula and they shared many wonderful adventures together. Loving on her nieces brought pure joy and they knew that being with Aunt Shirley meant you were going to have a wild time!
Throughout her entire life, Shirley loved our four-legged friends. Her first real love affair was with Emma Lou. This pup was the first in a long line of the many dogs and kitties that Shirley took in and shared her life; always a mutual rescue. When Shirley told you, “I love you like a dog”, you knew what she meant.
Shirley was preceded in death by her parents, and her step father, Edward Tade, Jr.
Shirley is survived by her siblings; Lynn Wetterling, Missoula; Margaret (Sid) Godolphin, Helena; Nancy (Buddy Nobles) Aitken-Nobles, Missoula; Larry (Simone) Tade, Silverdale, WA and Lisa (Tom) Brieske, Highlands Ranch, CO; nieces and nephews; Brian (Sally) Wetterling, CO; Kristine (Blaine) McElmurry, Missoula; Tessa Nobles, Missoula; Allie & Emma Brieske, CO; Dawn Noble, HI; Jeanette Noble Roseta, Spain; Jessica Kessler, HI
The family extends heartfelt gratitude to Hospice of Missoula and the BeeHive Homes care givers who treated Shirley with such kindness and shared with us so many “Perfectly Shirley” stories.
Condolences & stories for the family can be included on the Garden City Funeral Home website at www.GardenCityFH.com
There will be a Celebration of Life this summer.