Ajijic resident Ruth Knowles Shirley died June 1 after complications from a hip replacement precipitated by a recent fall.
Shirley was born in Dover, New Hampshire and grew up in the town of Madbury near the University of New Hampshire. Graduating from Oyster River High School in 1960, she attended Plymouth State College (PSC) for two years. The Howard Johnson corporation then hired her as a field evaluator.
Armed with a glimpse of the corporate world, in the autumn of 1966 Shirley returned to PSC, where she met her future husband, Tom Shirley.
Life as wife to Tom and mother of Scott and Jonathan soon included part-time work in real estate. This led to the development of the Ruth K. Shirley Real Estate Company and the Shirley Land Corporation, where her artistic side blossomed in the areas of architectural and interior design. Shirley’s first bout with cancer, along with a protracted legal battle, ended these pursuits.
After a period of convalescence, Shirley returned to PSC and finished her degree in education, with certification as a librarian and media specialist. Busy years parenting two boys, starting the Christmas Goose Tree Farm, and introducing and implementing the rapidly growing area of media technology to school libraries throughout New Hampshire followed. When Jon, the younger son, left for college, Shirley accepted a position in Quito, Ecuador, where the Cotopaxi School reached out for her expertise to make their library a show place of learning technology as a model for the international school community. A second bout with cancer ended this enterprise after the first year.
Back home in New Hampshire for treatment and recovery, Shirley returned to her work in local schools. Her third episode with cancer prompted her retirement.
In 2000, the Shirleys moved to the Lake Chapala region to enjoy travel, drawing, painting, entertaining and a robust social life.
Shirley is survived by her husband of 48 years, Tom Shirley of Ajijic, son Scott Shirley of Columbia, South Carolina, and son Jonathan of Waimea Beach, Hawaii. She will be missed by many.
A memorial celebration of Shirley’s life is being planned.