OBITUARY

Shirley Gilson

September 8, 1934September 13, 2021

Shirley Ann Gilson died at her home Sept. 13, 2021. She was 87.

A memorial to celebrate Shirley’s life will take place at 4 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Church of the Nativity, 7300 Lantern Road, Indianapolis. Visitation begins at 3 p.m. Masks are required for attendance. Memorial donations may be made to The Julian Center or to Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana (see details below). Due to the pandemic, flowers may not be sent to the church.

Born in St. Louis on Sept. 8, 1934, Shirley was raised in the Catholic faith surrounded by her extended family. Her tales of growing up always conveyed the love and support she felt from her family and community.

While studying biochemistry at St. Louis University, Shirley met Joseph Michael “Mike” Gilson, whom she married in 1957. They moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, for Mike to continue his medical training; there, Shirley continued her education, and they had their first four children. Their fifth was born in St. Louis as Mike was completing his medical training. Together they moved to Indianapolis, the city she would call home for the rest of her life.

Shirley was an active member of St. Matthew Catholic Church and later of Holy Cross Catholic Church. Seeking to better understand God, she attended Christian Theological Seminary, graduating magna cum laude in 1990 with a Master of Divinity. She delivered homilies that drew upon her observations of God’s presence and led Bible studies and retreats with a particular focus on women, social justice and politics.

Dogs and horses held a special place in Shirley’s heart. A talented trainer, she prized Dobermans for their intelligence and loyal companionship. As a child, she dreamed of owning horses; she associated them with freedom and viewed riding them as a partnership between horse and rider. As an adult, she brought her dream to life, owning up to 12 horses at a time and training both family members and friends.

Shirley will be remembered by her family and friends for her sense of adventure and love for God’s creations. In her 50s she took up traveling, buying an RV to explore Alaska, the Rocky Mountains and the American Southwest. She trekked the mountains in Nepal, traveled along the Amazon River and hiked in France. She toured with her children, friends and groups of similarly adventurous women. She often traveled with only her dog, Roscoe, accompanying her.

Her restlessness was born of a desire not simply to challenge herself physically or to see new places, but to learn about the lives of others as she plumbed the depths of her own. Travel was also a metaphor for Shirley’s life journey. Through service, she often joined others on their journeys. She visited the sick, served as an adult literacy tutor and stood in vigil with families whose loved ones had died violently. She drew from her faith to ease suffering and to seek justice and peace. Her final act was to donate her body to the Indiana University School of Medicine, believing that even in death she could contribute to bettering our world.

Shirley was preceded in death by her parents, Lillian Broz Mateker and Emil J. Mateker Sr.; her husband, Joseph Michael Gilson; her brother, “Buck” Emil J. Mateker Jr.; and her sister, Marilyn Mateker Hampel. She is survived by her brother, Charles Mateker; her sons, Michael (Karen) Gilson of Alexandria, Jim (Caroline) Gilson of Terre Haute and Paul Gilson of Princeton, New Jersey; and her daughters, Kathy (Dave) Varie of Indianapolis and Tricia Gilson of Columbus. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Paul Jr., Meredith, Hannah, Charlotte, Caroline, Mary, Jack, Sam and Broz.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.leppertmortuarynora.com for the Gilson family.

Donation Information: The Julian Center (domestic violence) | Donate here: https://bit.ly/3tKRU1M o Select “Dedicate my donation in honor of” o Honoree name: Shirley Gilson

Gleanor’s Food Bank | Donate here: https://bit.ly/3tLDheD o Select “Yes, this is an honor or memorial gift o Honoree name: “Shirley Gilson”

Services

  • Memorial Visitation

    Saturday, September 18, 2021

  • Memorial Service

    Saturday, September 18, 2021

Memories

Shirley Gilson

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Beverly Green

September 22, 2021

I was so sorry to hear of Shirley‘s passing. I did not find out until this morning or I would have been at the Celebration of Life. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. I am Father Voelker‘s Sister. Shirley was such a tremendous help to me and our family during Larry‘s long illness. I had talked with her a couple of times during this Pandemic. Before that we kept in touch and went to lunch at least once a year. She was a beautiful lady and I know will be missed. May God be with all of you at this time. ❤️🙏

Laurie Mancuso

September 18, 2021

Aunt Shirley was a stoic and loving Aunt who I admired so much for her independence and commitment to help others. Sending much love to family at this time of loss. God bless.

May the trail rise up to meet you
May your heart rejoice in song
May the skies be fair above you
As you journey ever on

Laurie

Melba & Ed Hopper

September 18, 2021

Shirley was a kind, sympathetic, and empathetic woman, and we were blessed to have her in our lives. She was gifted with a healing presence; she was committed to her family and loyal to her friends; she had a wonderful sense of humor, the kind with laughing eyes, mischievous smile, and innate affection. We have so many wonderful memories of Shirley and her family, and we will miss her in so, so many ways, but it is those memories and our shared stories that will keep her with us, always; and we will feel the touch of her spirit in flowers in bloom, sunlight and starlight, the voice of birds . . . in all the voices of nature.

Mary Gilson

September 17, 2021

Photo taken by Shirley in her garden

Mary Gilson

September 17, 2021

Easter (2000)

Mary Gilson

September 17, 2021

Shirley's family (2005)

Mary Gilson

September 17, 2021

Mary's 3rd Birthday

Mary Gilson

September 17, 2021

Shirley, Mike, Charlotte and Mary (1997)

Mary Gilson

September 17, 2021

Shirley and Mike (1958)

Mary Gilson

September 17, 2021

Shirley and Mike (1958)

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