Margaret Shirk

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  • "Just loved this lady, she was so wonderful. Her spirit will..."
    - Kim Murphree
  • "I was so sorry to read of Margaret's passing. For over 50..."
    - Linda Hyler
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Margaret Eloise (Lewis) Shirk gently passed away at home on September15, 2017 at the age of 100. She was born on August 18, 1917 in Grant Twp, Douglas, County, KS to Fred Vern Lewis and Anna Myrtle Ware Lewis. She grew up on the family farm which her grandparents, David Hamilton Lewis and Jane Payne Lewis settled in 1865, and it was on the farm that she drew her final breath. In 1935 she graduated from Liberty Memorial High School, and in 1939 she earned a Bachelor of Arts Economics Degree from the University of Kansas. It was while she was at KU that she met David Lee Shirk from El Dordo, KS, and whom she married in 1940. David and his "Margy" were happily married for 69 years until his death November 4, 2009. Margaret was his helpmate through all their years together, and she enjoyed being his "stats keeper" for the teams he coached. In addition to raising two daughters, Margaret became a stock broker for Long Investment Company in Abilene, KS. Her interest in the stock market never waned, and she actively followed the highs and lows her entire life.

She was also involved in her community and volunteered for many organizations. She gave over 50 years to the University of Kansas Alumni Association. In 1965 she volunteered for her first American Red Cross Blood Drive. In all of the ensuing years she missed only two drives – the last two prior to her death. She was the enthusiastic greeter for these blood drives, and people expected to see her there. For years she was a member of the Round Table Book Club of Lawrence and the Topeka Garden Club. She loved to play bridge and was a member of several bridge groups. As much as playing, she relished hosting these groups in her home. Going to Margaret's was always a treat as her large circle of friends would gladly attest.

She gave generously to causes she felt were worthy. She established the David and Margaret Shirk Physical Education Programs Fund at the University of Kansas. In El Dorado, KS, through that Rotary Club, she created the David Shirk Memorial Scholarship to help students who wanted to continue their education. She never forgot how hard her husband had worked for his education.

Margaret enjoyed her family. Her daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren recall fond memories of times spent with her on the farm. They especially enjoyed looking in on the hundreds of parties that various groups hosted out in "Shirk's Barn." Summer nights spent out on the sleeping porch and long hours playing old board games are among their favorite grandma memories. They loved swimming in the horse tank and watching her carefully choose jewelry before heading to town. She was proud of their accomplishments and loved attending their activities.

Second only to her love of family, Margaret adored all things KU! She proudly donned her Jayhawk apparel, of which she had an abundant selection, and cheerfully attended KU football games with little concern for the weather. She was a season-ticket holder for KU basketball and had been since 1940. Failing eyesight and hearing were no deterrence to her pleasure in the games. She loved being there in her little red shoes and dancing with Baby Jay. She was a gracious lady who enjoyed life. We were blessed to have had her for a full century and know that she and David are gearing up for a long-distance view of Late Night. She will be missed but remembered with much love.

Among her honors are:

Margaret and David were life members of the University of Kansas Alumni Association

Recipient of the University of Kansas Alumni Association's Mildred Clodfelter Award in 1989

Recipient of the Fred Ellsworth Medallion in 2014 for her longtime service to the University of Kansas

Honorary title of Permanent Supervising Judge of Precinct 55, recognizing her over 50 years of service

Recipient of the Paul Harris Award from the El Dorado Rotary Club in recognition of the David Shirk Memorial Scholarship.

Margaret is survived by her two daughters, Nancy Shirk Yonally (Jim) and Sally Jo Walquist; three grandchildren, Mark James Yonally, Lori Lee Houk, and Todd Walquist; and two great-grandchildren, Coleman and Chase Houk. She was preceded in death by grandson David John Yonally.

A private graveside service was held on September 18th. The family suggests that memorial donations be made in Margaret Shirk's name to the KU Endowment in support of the David and Margaret Shirk Physical Education Fund. KU Endowment, PO Box 928, Lawrence, KS 66044 or online at Donations may also be made in her name to the Douglas County American Red Cross Blood Drive.

Published in Lawrence Journal-World on Oct. 1, 2017
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