Shirley Elaine Gillock
May 5, 1921 – July 6, 2019
Shirley Elaine Bolinger Gillock, of Springfield, passed away peacefully on Saturday, July 6, 2019, at her home, surrounded by the love of her family. She was 98 years young.
Shirley was born on May 5, 1921, in St. Paul, MN, to May Alice Fanton and Harrison Alden Bolinger. Her family relocated to Springfield when she was 7 years old and she attended Converse School and then Lanphier High School. Growing up in a time when many women didn’t go to college, she chose to pursue her goal of becoming “a high school teacher of home economics and eventually the owner of a dress shop featuring her own designs in women’s clothes,” as she described in a newspaper article her senior year of high school. She embarked on that path at Illinois State Normal University, graduating in 1943 with a B.S. in Home Economics. She began her professional career at Warren Township High School in Gurnee, IL, where she was assigned to teach Foods rather than Sewing classes, and to manage the school cafeteria. With that experience in nutrition and science, she was hired to work in the Quartermaster’s Lab in downtown Chicago, testing C rations for soldiers serving in WWII.
After the love of her life and friend since grade school days, Russell F. Gillock, returned from his service as a Corpsman in the U.S. Navy, they were married at Christ Episcopal Church on May 4, 1946, the day before her 25th birthday. They were married for 53 years, enjoying their partnership in raising their two daughters, Nancy & Janie; in clearing the dancefloor while others admired their dance skills; in celebrating family gatherings; in their shared joy of children, including their extended families, neighbors, the 3 & 4 year old Sunday school class, and especially their three treasured grandchildren. They were both involved individually and together in many community activities and shared a love of travel with family and friends, including favorite trips throughout the continental US, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, and participating in a music festival adventure with the Springfield Municipal Band to Austria and Germany.
While her dream to own a dress shop did not materialize, Shirley continued to be an exceptional seamstress, designing and making most of her own dresses, suits, and coats, and later her daughters’ clothes. Her garments were as beautifully finished on the inside as out. After she and her sister shared a wedding gown in their respective weddings, Shirley meticulously altered the gown to fit each of her daughters in the 1970s, made christening outfits for her grandchildren from the brocade fabric, and used an original cuff to wrap the bridal bouquet at her grandson Colin’s wedding in 2017.
Shirley never stopped being an educator, whether it was raising “the girls,” working part time as a public school test administrator, teaching tailoring in adult education classes, or assisting clients with life skills and career guidance before eventually retiring after 17 years with the Illinois Department of Public Aid. She was involved in many clubs, organizations, and volunteer activities, including Kings Daughters, HESCO (Home Economists of Sangamon County), PEO HU Chapter (54 years), Springfield Ceramics & Crafts Club, Lake Press Club, Ansarettes, Variety Club, and Sangamon Auditorium volunteers (15+ years). As an active member of Christ Episcopal Church since the early 1940s, she shared her gifts through membership in the women’s guild, served on the altar guild, taught the youngest church members, and closest to her heart was her work in the food pantry housed at Christ Church. She loved gardening, babies, children, traveling, reading, and her annual trips to the ocean to “get her feet in the sand.” She was known for her kindness, respect, and passion for helping others.
Shirley is survived by her daughters, Nancy Gillock Katarski of AZ; Jane Gillock Scott and son-in-law, Dick Scott of NC; granddaughter Emily Jane Scott of NC; grandsons, Russell S. Katarski of AZ; Colin Russell Scott & granddaughter-in-law Amanda Scott of GA. As the last surviving member of the Greatest Generation on both sides of the family, she has been the treasured Aunt and Great Aunt Shirley, and honorary member of many extended families. Two nieces in the Springfield area, Linda Boone Runkle and Barb Grimmer Senalik, along with their husbands, have been like daughters and sons to Shirley for decades.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Russ, in 1999. Also preceding her in death were her parents, brother Ralph Edwin Bolinger, and sister Norma Bolinger Boone.
Services honoring Shirley will begin on Monday, July 15, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, Sixth & Jackson, followed by interment at Camp Butler National Cemetery. That afternoon, there will be a Celebration of Shirley’s Life in the Concordia and Harmony Rooms at Concordia Village, 4101 W. Iles Ave, beginning at 2:30 p.m., followed by a reception ending at 4:00 p.m. The family welcomes all to join us for one or both events.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests making memorial donations to causes near and dear to Shirley’s heart, such as agencies that support people in need, or taking a large bag of food and supplies in her memory to your local food bank. Please join our commitment to continue Shirley’s legacy by sharing kindness and respect for all of our fellow human beings.
- causes near and dear to her heart, such as agencies that support people in need, or take a large bag of food and supplies in her memory to your local food bank.
- Memorial Service Monday, July 15, 2019
- Celebration of Shirley's Life Monday, July 15, 2019
Shirley Elaine Gillock
July 12, 2019
Dear Nanci and Jane, how do I begin to express our sorrow over the loss of Shirley. She was such a part of our lives for so many years. She was like a second Mom to me. When we went home to see Mom,Shirley was always there to great us (or me). We shared stories and pictures over coffe and treats (Mel Cream donuts for sure) Shirley was always there for Mom whether it was for help or just to visit. She always said she knew what time it was by when Randy pulled in the driveway. We all have such wonderful memories of life on Lincoln Ave. Bless you both and your family. Prayers and Love Jim,Karen,Randy,Wayne,Michele ,Karyn and Kaleb
July 11, 2019
Beside my middle name was after Shirley, my college degree was also in home economics. I know how special her friendship was to Mom. We enjoyed trips to visit all of you in Springfield & see the history sites in the area. May you be comforted with all the great memories of your Mom.
Dianne Balmes Cummings