Dear readers,

Shirley died on Monday, early in the morning.

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For more than 50 years I have been sharing a weekly letter to her in the Herald.

For me, the world is a sadder, smaller place. She was "the baby" of our Hansen family of five children who grew up during the Great Depression of the 1930s. We lived by the Chicago-Northwestern railroad tracks down at Pierre, S.D.

The memories remain.

We always laughed about Shirley and the new tricycle she got when she was about 3 years old. When she fell off it, she kicked the trike over and said, "Gammit."

Shirley got to know several of my friends here in Grand Forks when she and her late husband, Frank Shinn, would come for visits. They would venture into North Dakota only in the summer time. Once when she was in town we had a big luncheon for Shirley at the Westward Ho. And occasionally in the summer time I still hold a luncheon at a restaurant and encourage all the Shirleys to come.

After Frank retired from his career in the U.S. Marine Corps, he and Shirley explored the country for years with their travel trailer. Although they had no children of their own, they enriched the lives of all the children they met. They doted on their 13 nieces and nephews.

They took them camping. And after they settled in Tucson, their door was always wide open. For years, we took our whole family to Arizona in March. We just moved in on Shirley and Frank.

Shirley had just turned 87 on Jan. 25.

She always loved the work she did as a secretary. Nowadays the work would more likely be that of an office manager. And she was an expert. Along with that, she turned into a very good, very avid golfer.

Shirley carried the Lutheran faith she learned as a child everywhere she went. She always would find a Lutheran Church, and Frank would join her in worship services on Sunday.

Frank went on ahead several years ago. Now Shirley is gone.

Our nieces, Joanne Jensen from Sacramento, Calif., and Kristi Harley, Colorado Springs, Colo., were with her at the end. They have been faithful in their visits over the years. When you treat children with love, they do not leave you alone in old age.

We are saddened by her passing, but we rejoice in the lessons we learned from Shirley.

One was generosity. If you told Shirley you admired something she was wearing, she was likely to peel it off and give it to you. I often remember the aqua colored cardigan she had to start her junior year in high school.

That's when we all wore saddle shoes, pleated skirts and cardigans.

Well, Shirley, peeled off her brand new cardigan and gave it to me to wear down at the University of South Dakota.

Oh, the memories! How they flow! Life goes on, and I will keep writing my letters in the Herald to someone and sign them with love from the West Bank of the Red River of the North.