Resident Spotlight: Shirley Anderson


Shirley Anderson


What motivates someone to provide an act of kindness to others? Could it be the good feeling about self that is the reward? Or, perhaps it is something GOD plants in the heart of someone so that others in need can be served? The latter explanation probably best fits Shirley Anderson, who unquestionably spends many hours each day volunteering and helping others.

Perhaps Shirley’s desire to help others came about as the result of her humble beginning. The youngest of six children, her family struggled to survive. As a result of financial circumstances, Shirley was born in the John Gaston Hospital, the city hospital, on January 23,1935. Shirley remembers, “our family lived in a ‘run-down’ shack in Ellendale (suburb of Memphis). Our house burned to the ground when I was five years old and our family moved to Memphis and I have lived here ever since”. Because both parents worked, Shirley spent most of her summers at South Side Park where she became interested in many sports, including tennis which she continues to play occasionally.

Shirley attended A. B. Hill Elementary and won the school’s spelling bee contest while in 7th grade. She attended South Side High School where she was a cheerleader for three years. “I had a great time in high school and was honored to be voted Best Dancer and Most Popular Girl my senior year”.

Graduating from high school in 1953, Shirley could not afford to attend college. So, she found employment at MLG&W. She became involved in a sponsored bowling team that played at Southern Lanes. There, she met a handsome, young man who was working his way through college. The man was James William “Jim” Anderson and they were married in September of 1959. Shirley continued working at MLGW until motherhood came along. The first daughter, Leslie was born in 1961, the second, Tracy in 1962. “We got the shock of our lives in 1965 when I gave birth to twin boys, James Christopher “Jim” and William Timothy “Tim”. The doctor didn’t even know I was expecting twins. Four children in less than five years, I was quite busy for a few years” says Shirley.

Shirley and Jim Anderson
Shirley and Jim Anderson

The family moved to Germantown in 1971 and Shirley remained a “stay-at-home mom” until 1975 when she became employed as school secretary at Farmington Elementary. She stayed there until the last child graduated from college. By that time the daughters, Leslie and Tracy had married and the grandchildren started arriving. Shirley’s husband, Jim, was then Superintendent of Shelby County Schools, an appointed job which he held from 1985-1997. During this time, Shirley was able to devote time to and enjoy her four grandchildren. “I did a lot of volunteering work at church and Ronald McDonald House”. Jim also liked serving others and for two years they spent every Monday morning, in all kind of weather, serving breakfast to the homeless in a park in mid-town. “I felt so blessed to be able to do this” says Shirley.

Since moving to Kirby Pines in August 2014, Shirley has been constantly busy. Not long after moving to Kirby Pines, Jim began showing signs of declining health and Shirley devoted most of her time to caring for him. Jim’s move to the health care facilities here at Kirby motivated her to see the need for her services in those areas. Since Jim’s death two years ago, Shirley has devoted countless hours to activities for the residents there. In a more public light, Shirley is currently serving on the Advisory Committee, having formerly served as Wing Leader. You can see her in every resident entertainment venue, in the Blossom Shop and transporting residents from the health areas to Vespers every Thursday night. You might see her filing music in the “music closet” or assisting with memorial services. “I’m happy to transport or run errands for anyone who needs help”, says Shirley. Such a statement comes from a true servant!

Shirley is currently a member of Germantown Church of Christ. She was baptized at age 17 and has consistently been involved in all church activities. In Shirley’s own words, “I, like most people, have had hard times in my life, but GOD has gotten me through them. I believe He always will. Since Jim’s death, GOD has led me to many great people and so many opportunities to help others here at Kirby Pines. This is a great place to live. I thank GOD for blessing me with these opportunities and for all the others who serve in so many ways”.

Shirley Anderson is certainly an example of someone with a true servant’s heart. She, like many others at Kirby Pines provide in excess of 30,000 hours of volunteer service each year. We are truly blessed to have so many residents who devote their talents to making life better at Kirby Pines and so fortunate that Shirley and her husband, Jim, decided to make Kirby Pines their forever home.

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines