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Life Story / Obituary
Loving, compassionate, and kind, Shirley Ellis Aston lived a life rich in family and friends. With a warm smile and a welcoming heart, Shirley was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother who embraced each moment as a gift and every person as a friend. Shirley freely gave of her talents, lightening burdens and sweetening days. A powerful role model, Shirley was treasured by many; she will long be remembered and ever so missed.
The beginning of 1929 continued to ride the decade's roaring wave of peace, prosperity, and hope. The nation celebrated the recent inventions of Penicillin, the iron lung, bubble gum, and the Yo-Yo, as well as Charles Lindbergh's Congressional Medal of Honor and Amelia Earhart becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. As the wave of sweeping social and economic growth rapidly increased, nowhere was there more hope for the future than in the home of Gertrude Pauline Sandman and Wayne Loveland as they welcomed their daughter Shirley into their family on April 21, in Petersburg, Michigan.
Shirley was born in the family home with her older sister, Dorothy, and brother O. Wayne, Jr., which had been converted to the Loveland family pharmacy. Sadly, the pharmacy was lost during the Great Depression. Growing up in a time of struggle, Shirley's childhood experiences proved powerful influences for the rest of her life. They helped shape her drive, goals, resiliency, and determination to live a heart-centered life.
As a teen, Shirley enjoyed speedskating at Palmer Park and attended Cooley High School in Detroit. After graduating from high school, Shirley boarded a bus and moved to Pennsylvania, where she worked as a nanny. Her work as a nanny afforded her the opportunity to put herself through medical technology school.
While working as a lab-tech at Art Center Hospital, Shirley had the good fortune of meeting the love of her life, Melville (Mel) Harry Ellis, who worked as a medical intern. Shirley and Mel began dating and soon fell in love. With their hearts set on creating a future together, the happy couple married on New Year's Day, 1952, as Mel had that weekend off before beginning his residency at Art Center Hospital.
In time, Shirley and Mel settled into a small three-bedroom home in Dearborn Heights, where they were blessed to raise their five children: Vicki, Craig, Brett, Lynne, and Stacey. While Mel worked as an Osteopathic Doctor, Shirley dedicated herself to a career in homemaking. With great care and attention to detail, Shirley created a beautiful, loving, and supportive home for her family. With their pet, Heidi, a miniature schnauzer puppy added to the brood, the Ellis family shared a home built on strong family values. As her children grew older, Shirley became more socially active and on the go. She frequently drove to her activities and to the children's school on Outer Drive, often exceeding the 35 miles per hour speed limit and quickly earning the nickname "the speed demon." After stopping her and issuing several speeding tickets, the community police officer called her a "slow learner" as he handed her one last one. His assertion inspired her to adhere to the speed limit from then on.
In the late 1960's, Shirley and Mel designed and had their dream house built in University Village in Dearborn Heights. It was complete with a built-in pool that Shirley enjoyed but "never got her hair wet." Naturally social, Shirley was a fabulous hostess who delighted in welcoming people to her home. Holidays and summers were her favorite times to gather with her loved ones. Christmas was her favorite holiday. The family made a tradition of going to Christmas tree farms to purchase very large trees that had to be cut down to size to fit the family room. Once sized down, the tree was flocked with artificial snow in the garage. Then it was brought inside, where Shirley would elaborately decorate it. Her gifts were carefully chosen, wrapped, and trimmed with handmade bows. Shirley hosted Christmas Eve open houses for friends and family, followed by Christmas morning brunch, then traditional Christmas night dinner. Summertime found Shirley hosting pool parties that included friendly, competitive side yard volleyball games and barbeques.
The family welcomed two more schnauzer puppies, Fancy and Schnapps. When Fancy had a litter of pups, Shirley couldn't bear to part with "Heinrick," and so stayed with the family too. Recognizing the restorative power of leisure, two weeks were always set aside each year for family vacations. Over the years, the family made wonderful memories of waterskiing, sailing, snorkeling, fishing, and sharing good company at many different northern Michigan lakes.
A woman of many talents, Shirley enjoyed designing and making beautiful drapes and tablecloths, as well as her own clothing, her little girls' dresses and matching doll clothes. Always willing to give of her time and talents in service of others, Shirley also volunteered at the Art Center Hospital Auxiliary where her Mel worked. For 40 years, Shirley played bridge weekly with her longtime friends.
As her children grew into adulthood, moved away to college, married, and had families of their own, Shirley welcomed her new roles as mother-in-law and grandmother with signature grace and gratitude. Meeting and sharing time with each of her 12 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren proved an indescribable joy. Much to her pleasure, her children and grandchildren returned to their family home for get-togethers and celebrated the holidays together. In addition to traditional family gatherings, Shirley and Mel also gifted their family with a loving and respectful marriage. Their affinity, commitment, and support of one another proved a powerful inspiration, always most evident when Mel gifted his bride with anniversary roses. One red, long-stemmed rose for every year they were married, their bouquet grew to 50 roses on their final anniversary on January 1, 2002.
That same year Mel suffered a fatal stroke following heart surgery. Though she missed her beloved dearly, Shirley found comfort in her family and friends. After several years living alone, she was introduced to Jim Aston by a family friend. Jim, who had also lost his spouse, was outgoing, had a great sense of humor, and a love for adventure. In one another, Shirley and Jim found love and companionship. They married and eventually sold their family homes and built their beautiful new home in Northville. They spent their sunset years traveling extensively until Jim passed away in 2018.
In late 2019, when the house seemed too big, Shirley moved to an apartment at Fox Fun in Novi. In no time at all, she beautifully decorated her new space with treasured possessions transforming it into a lovely sanctuary where she would spend her final days.
Clearly, it is difficult to imagine life in the absence of Shirley's steadfast and loving company. While we find comfort in our many treasured memories, may we also find comfort in the honor of carrying her legacy forward. With each moment we greet a stranger as a friend, relish the moment, welcome our home to others, give our talents, travel, or sip chilled Chardonnay, we celebrate the many ways Shirley gifted our lives. In this way, we keep her beautiful spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired us.
Aston, Shirley Ellis. July 7, 2021, age 92. Beloved Wife of the late Dr. Melville Ellis and James Aston. Loving Mother of Vicki (Leonard) Turowski, Craig (Kathleen) Ellis, Brett (Mary Ellen) Ellis, Lynne (Richard) Meyer, and Stacey (Joseph) Anderson. Dearest Grandmother of 12 and Great Grandmother of 12. Visitation Sunday 2pm until the time of service 6pm at Neely-Turowski Funeral Home 30200 Five Mile (Between Middle Belt and Merriman) Interment Glen Eden Cemetery.