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Obituaries are so much more than a public notice that a friend or loved one has passed away.

Shirley E. Chapman

1/14/1937 - 2/29/2020

Shirley Ester Chapman went home to be with the Lord she loved in the early afternoon of Saturday, February 29, 2020. She was 83 years old. Born on January 14, 1937, in Gladewater, Texas, she was the youngest child and only daughter of Virgil and Hulett Wilson. Shirley’s family, which included brothers Virgil and Kenneth, was poor and worked hard to survive, moving often to pick cotton and other crops. The family eventually settled in DeRidder, Louisiana. Even though they didn’t have an easy life, Shirley had many delightful and wonderful stories about her childhood.

After high school, Shirley joined the Women’s Army Corps and was stationed at Ft. McClellan, Alabama, where she trained to be a teletype operator. While there, she caught the eye of a handsome soldier, Bob Chapman. They were married soon after in a military ceremony at Ft. McClellan’s Silver Chapel.

Uncle Sam sent them to Augsburg, Germany, where two daughters, Sandra Lee and Holly Charmaine, were born. The Army then ordered them to Ft Bragg near Fayetteville, North Carolina. While there, another daughter, Kathryn Leann, and a son, Robert Edward Jr., joined the family.

The Panama Canal Zone was their next duty station. It was here that a friend taught Shirley how to sew, and she became a master seamstress. Shirley and her daughters wore lovely clothing that she created for them. The grandchildren also benefited from her sewing skills. Shirley was a faithful Army wife through all the moves and “held down the fort” in Security, Colorado while Bob served in Vietnam and again in Lawton, Oklahoma, while he was in Korea.

Shirley was blessed with a spirit of fun, and she really enjoyed being a mother to Sandy, Holly, and Robbie.  Many of the kids’ favorite childhood memories revolve around their mother and her ability to create a whole lot of fun in even the simplest of ways.

After retirement from the Army, Bob & Shirley and their family relocated to Detroit, Michigan, where Bob began a second career. The children all completed school there and left the nest. The family home in Detroit was “home base” while the girls were off to college and met their future husbands, Lloyd Bartley and Tim Collard.

After Bob’s second retirement, he & Shirley said goodbye to the North’s long winters and enjoyed the RV life, wintering in Texas and the Gulf. After five years, they settled down in the foothills of the Ozarks and embraced retirement living. They were very involved in activities at the senior center and in their church. Shirley joined a writing class and delighted her family with memories she shared through her literary creations.

Shirley is survived by her children, Sandra (Timothy) Collard of Pekin; Holly (Lloyd) Bartley of Rochester Hills, Michigan; and Robert Chapman, Jr of Sherwood, Arkansas. Shirley was a proud and doting grandmother to Laura (Russ) McDowell, Nathan (Kellie) Bartley, Elizabeth (Chris) Green and James (Angela) Collard. The great-grandchildren who came along brought her much joy. Shirley was preceded in death by her parents and brothers; by an infant daughter, Kathryn, and by Bob, her husband of 59 ½ years.

The family would like to gratefully acknowledge the excellent care Shirley received from the Illinois Neurological Institute, Senior World of Morton, Reflections Memory Care of Pekin, and Transitions Hospice of Peoria.  Each met a real need in Shirley’s life during her struggle with dementia.

Shirley’s funeral service will be at Preston-Hanley Funeral Home on Monday, March 9, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. Visitation is one hour prior to the service. Her son-in-law, Pastor Timothy Collard, will officiate. Shirley will be buried with her husband at Camp Butler National Cemetery near Springfield, Illinois.

Gifts in her memory may be given to the Missions Program at Faith Baptist Church of Pekin, where Shirley was a member since January of 2015.

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