Groton – Shirley Elizabeth (Singer) Coleman, 90, of Groton passed away at home surrounded by her loving family on June 25, 2022, of congestive heart failure. Shirley was born in Honesdale, PA on September 6, 1931, to the late Rev. Milo Dewitt Singer and Florence (Furman) Singer.
During her childhood she enjoyed many summers on her friend Virginia’s farm in PA. Shirley attended Bridgeton High School in New Jersey graduating with the class of 1949. She later attended nursing school until the untimely death of her mother (when Shirley was just 19 years old) and was called home to care for her father and younger brothers (housekeeping, cooking). Although she and her family traveled wherever her father’s ministry called him, she always considered herself a Wilkes Barre (PA) girl.
It was in Wilkes Barre that she took a job as a waitress at Percy Brown’s Restaurant to help support the family and where she met her friends (Bunny and Corky--who happened to be dating her two brothers). It was they who would set her up on a blind date at a New Year’s Eve party in 1954-55. They introduced her to the love of her life, Charlie “Bud” Coleman from Osterville MA, and Charlie and Shirley were married July 23, 1955 in Wilkes Barre, PA. Shirley had the good fortune to be walked down the aisle by her father, Rev. Singer, after which he performed the ceremony for Shirley and Charlie.
After her marriage, she was very happy to become a homemaker and the mother of four children, something she felt she was born to do.
She was an extremely shy person, rarely offering her opinion during a conversation but always listening to everyone around her Despite her shyness, she traveled wherever her husband’s job took them. When he worked for Sperry, they lived in Mineola, NY (where their three oldest children were born). Her husband was then hired by E.B. and they moved to Groton, CT. They temporarily moved to Tennessee for E.B. (a job which took longer than its original estimate) before returning to Groton where their fourth child was born. Her husband’s job then took them to San Diego California. They drove nine days across country (there and back) with four kids and a dog in a station wagon. During these trips, they pointed out various sites (the St Louis Arch) to their children and stopped at the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, and the Grand Canyon. While in California they experienced an earthquake and it snowed in San Diego that winter (a rare occurrence). A year after moving to San Diego, they returned to Groton and the same home (it had not sold during the year they were gone!). She spent most of her life living in Groton but also enjoyed her retirement years spent in Port Charlotte, Florida and in Osterville, Cape Cod, MA.
Shirley enjoyed working in her flower gardens, cooking for her family, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles and mystery novels. She also belonged to several bowling leagues. Shirley loved shopping of any kind and could be found at the grocery store nearly every day. She played the organ at home and, on occasion, for the early Sunday service many years ago, in the Chapel for Noank Baptist Church. She also enjoyed singing in the church choir. After church on Sundays, she always prepared a family dinner with a roast, mashed potatoes and vegetables. We had sandwiches for supper and then one of her wonderful desserts. Shirley also cared for several parakeets over the years (Sweetie, Tweetie, Puffy, Petie x 3, and Sugar), two dogs (Ruffy and Lady), and several cats.
Shirley absolutely LOVED ketchup and chocolate (Hershey’s with almonds, chocolate covered strawberries, and chocolate ice cream). She never missed a card for birthdays, anniversaries or holidays until she was no longer able to get out of the house and drive. She spent many summers jarring pickles (from the cucumbers in the vegetable garden her husband tended as well as making homemade strawberry jam and rhubarb pie (again from the strawberries and rhubarb grown in the garden) and froze many quarts of green beans for the winter months. She made the absolute best potato salad for summer picnics and taught her daughters how to make a homemade apple pie and crust. She also taught her daughters the basics of knitting and how to rug hook - hobbies they still enjoy to this day. Every Christmas the kids and grandkids were allowed to cut out and decorate the Christmas cookies and we all had a part in decorating the tree and the house. Despite having to always watch her budget, she surprised us at Christmas and, to our delight, Santa always brought many gifts. Shirley was our GPS/Navigator whenever we took a long trip (such as to visit her father or brothers’ families) using “old paper map” technology.
We will miss her most on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was “her” holiday, when the entire family would get together. It would be loud at times with everyone talking at once, but she was happy to delight in her family and the traditions that kept us together. She would bake all the desserts (apple and pumpkin pie, tomato soup cake, chocolate cake, etc) and prepare the entire meal. There is nothing like walking into their warm house and smelling the scent of cooking turkey and stuffing after standing outside in the freezing cold at the Fitch-New London or Ledyard Thanksgiving game. Her daughters will be carrying on this tradition.
She was one of the kindest, sweetest people in the world. She was the best Mom, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother, always giving of herself.
She is survived by her husband of 66 years, Charles Coleman of Groton, daughters & their husbands Debbie (Dave) Miner and Susan (Mick) Franczek also of Groton; her brother-in-law and sister-in-law Cecil and Rose Coleman of Port Charlotte, Fla; her “sister” Joan Singer of East Stroudsburg, PA; grandsons, Tom Clark, David Miner and Jason Miner; and granddaughter, Michelle Woodhall; as well as five (soon to be six) great-grandchildren, Chloe, Gavin and Luka Miner (due in September), Lacey and Madison Woodhall, and Charlie Clark. She is also survived by numerous extended family members. She was predeceased (within the past year) by both of her sons, Charles Coleman Jr. (4/11/21), and Douglas Coleman (2/22/22). She was also predeceased by her two younger brothers Glenn and Theron Singer and a sister-in-law, Barbara Kent.
Arrangements are being handled by Abbey Funeral Home & Cremation Service, Rocky Hill. All services will be private for the family. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
Donations may be made to a charity of the donor’s choice.