Shirley J. Riemer

April 26, 1928March 31, 2020

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Shirley Riemer was sent at age five to the D.T. Watson Home for Crippled Children, where she spent four years receiving treatment for polio. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh, and her Master’s degree at Carnegie Mellon University, where she developed a passion for education and writing that lasted her a lifetime. Shirley taught high school English for ten years and worked in the field of communications for 22 years in both Harrisburg and Sacramento, supporting publication and parent-teacher negotiations. During her working years, two outside interests obsessed her – the Metropolitan Opera and the wines and culture of Germany. Shirley made over 50 trips to Germany in her lifetime and shared her obsessions through 24 years of editing Der Blumenbaum, and 15 years writing the Mitteilungen publication for the Sacramento Turn Verein. Books she has authored or co-authored include The German Research Companion, and Researching in Germany. Her dedication to the German genealogy community was commemorated with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International German Genealogy Partnership in 2017. One of her most recent topics of interest was “Writing to be Read”, which perfectly captures her commitment to unearthing hidden gems in her research in order to make her articles and stories come alive to her readers.

Shirley lived by two personal beliefs that she often shared: 1. “We go around only once. We therefore have the duty to contribute along the way.” 2. “Never talk about oneself – unless dragged into court to testify under oath.”

Shirley met her future husband, Harry, in college, and had two children, Bonnie and Tom. She is survived by Bonnie, as well as five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She will be buried in a family plot at Woodlawn Memorial Gardens in Harrisburg by Tom’s side.

In lieu of flowers, donations to Doctors Without Borders are welcomed.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Shirley J. Riemer

have a memory or condolence to add?

Nancy Stupp

April 8, 2020

I served on the PSEA- Staff Organization with Shirley. She always had a smile on her face and I loved the way she represented our staff. She was a joy to be with. My condolences to her whole family. God Bless.

Don Morabito

April 8, 2020

Shirley was a force - she helped you as a fellow PSEA staffer by making you think. Public school employees live better lives because of her work. Sympathy to the family - please know that we will not forget her.


April 7, 2020

Shirley was director of Communications at PSEA when I was hired in the late 80's --what an articulate voice for public education! My only shock was how old she was--she was such a vibrant and eternally youthful presence. I was so sad when she left for California.

George Apaliski

April 7, 2020

Shirley inspired, mentored and supported many of the staff of PSEA. I know because she did all of those for me. Advocacy was another of her many qualities. She was the first person I knew that had a wine cellar! She was always willing to share her most recent find after returning from Germany. I smiled and chuckled when I saw her picture enjoying a glass of beer. Let us all raise a toast to her tonight

Cordell Affeldt

April 7, 2020

Shirley was a force. Her kindly, organized ways influenced my writing during the last four years of her work with the Pennsylvania State Education Association. Her education advocacy inspired me.

And then I retired. And discovered genealogy. And ended up with permanent bookmarks in selected pages of her reference work. Once again, Shirley influenced my work and deepened my commitment.

Every good wish to the family of Shirley Reimer. Thank you for sharing her!