Shirley Barlow Harris
Hanover, N.H. — Shirley Barlow Harris, 94, died Sunday, March 3, 2013 at Kendal of Hanover, surrounded by family and staff. She was born Shirley Lucille Barlow, on July 16, 1918, the third and youngest daughter of Jessie E. McDowell and James Pollitt Barlow of Brighton, Mass. Shirley grew up in the Boston area, and earned her Bachelor’s degree in 1940 from Boston University’s College of Practical Arts and Letters. In 1941, she married Edward G. Harris, a childhood friend and next door neighbor since age 16.
In 1946, following Edward’s service as an Army Chaplain in WWII, the couple moved to Southborough, Mass., to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, where Edward was Rector. In 1950, Shirley and Edward moved with their two young children to Philadelphia, Pa., where Edward assumed the role of Chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania and where their third child was born. In 1961, Edward became Dean at the Philadelphia Divinity School, and in 1974, Shirley and Edward moved to Cambridge, Mass., where he served as Co-Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School. Throughout these years, Shirley hosted countless parish, student, and faculty dinners and gatherings, and was active in many clubs and organizations. The family spent many summers in Burkehaven, N.H., and later at their small farmhouse in Dimock, Pa. Following her divorce in 1976, Shirley moved to Peterborough, N.H. There, she became secretary to the head of the Dublin School until her retirement in 1991, at age 73. She then moved to Hanover, entering the Kendal community as a founding member, where she lived for more than 21 years.
In her youth, Shirley was an avid swimmer, camp counselor, and bicyclist who loved the outdoors, lakes and mountains. She was a long-time choir member and soloist at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Allston, Mass. Throughout her life she welcomed people and animals into her home, and was an ardent supporter of charitable groups serving children, animals, and wildlife. While in Peterborough, she was a member of the Monadnock Chorus and Orchestra and performed with them on two European tours.
Shirley immersed herself in many hobbies that included reading, cooking, sewing, knitting, weaving, gardening, and putting up food. Her insatiable curiosity and determination kept her eager always to try new things. Her cheerful good nature, sense of humor, optimism, and her kindness, compassion and caring for others, were a hallmark of her service to her family, the church, the institutions where she lived and worked, and to the Kendal community. Throughout her life, she embraced multiculturalism and inclusion, welcoming people of all backgrounds and orientations into her home and at her table.
Shirley was a devoted and loving caregiver to family and friends, concerned for others up to the very end of her life. An infant daughter, Penelope, and Shirley’s sisters and their husbands, Alice and Clifford King, and Gertrude and Fred Vytal, preceded her in death. She leaves three surviving children: David Harris, Jennifer Harris and partner Benjamin Grant, Geoffrey Harris and wife Brenda Harris; four grandchildren: Justin Oakley and wife Jamie, Courtney Harris, Molly Walsh and husband Keith, and Erik Pietz; and great grandchildren: Gavin and Emma Oakley, Briar and Marin Walsh, and Cole. She leaves nieces and nephews: Virginia Shank, Beverly Bridges, Wendy Harris, Stephen Harris, Alison Harris, and their children and families.
A memorial reception will be held at Kendal in Hanover, Saturday, April 13, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. A service will be held Saturday, May 18, 11 a.m., at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Southborough, Mass., followed by burial of ashes at the Southborough Town Cemetery. Donations are suggested in lieu of flowers to any fund groups at Kendal at Hanover, or to organizations supporting children, animals, or wildlife.
Arrangements are under the direction of the Rand-Wilson Funeral Home of Hanover.