Shirley Height Dolby, the Matriarch of the Dolby family, went to fly with the cardinals on Sunday, June 23 rd. She left this earth holding the hands of two of her daughters and the hearts of the rest of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was just 2 months shy of her 95th birthday.
Shirley was born in Meridan CT on August 23, 1924 and later moved to Great Barrington, MA. She graduated from Searles High school where she met the love of her life, “Chuck “ Dolby.
When Chuck went into the Navy, Shirley went to Boston to do nursing (one of her proudest experiences). Chuck and Shirley were married on March 2, 1946. They started their family of 6 children at the famous 194 East St. residence, in Great Barrington, and worked side by side in the family business, E.B. Dolby florist, Inc. until they retired to Venice, Florida.
Shirley and Chuck had 72 amazing years together. They loved and lived for each other and their family. They taught their children many pertinent lessons. They were two very different souls, but they were always there for each other. Simply said, they made it work.
Shirley was an amazing mom. She managed to work and get 6 kids moving in the mornings and never said “no” to more friends or relatives at dinner. This was evidenced in her morning routine of lining us up for vitamins, and having the breakfast lined up buffet style. As for the times when there were unexpected mouths to feed ( which was frequent)…she would throw one more burger together or whip up another salad quickly in the kitchen so no one ever went hungry. She had the amazing ability to make something out of nothing.
Shirley had an incredible command of the English language and was quick to correct you for using the incorrect pronoun “I” or “Me” or the biggest of her pet peeves … the improper use of “lay vs lie. “ We all have memories of the book “ Increase Your Word Power” coming out at family dinners.
Mom taught us all how to play solitaire and make hospital corners when making our beds. Each night was a routine that stuck with her to the end. You simply MUST turn down your bed before you climb in.
She was so proud of each of her children and grandchildren’s accomplishments. She had the famous “birthday book” which featured each of her family’s birthdays all the way down to her great grandchildren.
Shirley moved with Chuck to the Arbors Assisted Living in Greenfield, where she lived for the past 5 ½ years. This was not only a new home but it was in a town she did not know at all. Shirley embraced the move demonstrating her amazing capability ( at 89 years of age )to adapt to yet another home and make the best of it. Shirley will be remembered at the Arbors for her fancy compression stockings, earrings, lipstick and , once again, command of the English language. No one was spared an occasional correction when warranted. All of the staff at the Arbors were her angels who kept her going. She loved the RCA’s that were so good to her and helped her in more ways than just her physical needs. This truly was her home and it was because of the staff.
Shirley had a short stay at Charlene Manor where she also received loving care from the staff, with the guidance of her beloved physician, Dr. Joseph Viadero. They were kind and respectful and helped her to move on with dignity. We are grateful to all of them for that.
Shirley not only gave her children life, but she filled each of us with strengths ,wisdom, determination and purpose mixed in with perfect dashes of quirkiness and charm. We are grateful for her gifts. Amongst these gifts are some of the sayings we catch ourselves repeating every day:
“What does that have to do with the price of eggs in China?”
“If you don’t have anything nice to say… don’t say anything at all.”
“You can’t judge a book by it’s cover.”
“Beauty is as Beauty does”
“C’est la vie”
Shirley was predeceased by her husband Chuck of 72 years on March 14, 2018. She leaves behind three sons: Charles “Chick” Dolby, Jr. and wife Carol of Denver, CO , Richard Dolby and wife Kathy of Niceville, FL , Wayne Dolby and Lynne Pino of Great Barrington, MA, three Daughters: Deborah Sigsworth and husband Zeke of Greenfield, MA , Liz Dolby and husband Tony Wonseski Jr of Greenfield, MA, Sue TenBroeck and husband Robert of Great Barrington, MA. Ten Grandchildren: Nicole, Danielle, Adam, Keith, Sharon, Brian , Zachariah, Joshua , Stephanie, and Monique and a multitude of great grandchildren.
The family is planning services for the end of September , 2019 at a destination and venue yet to be determined with the assistance of Smith-Kelleher.
In lieu of flowers, simply do this for our English lover: Stop, put down your cell phones, engage with others by talking and most important of all…. Listening.
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