Shirley Hathaway died peacefully, near her daughter on February 21, 2023, at Foulkeways Continuing Care Retirement Community in Gwynedd, Penn.
Born Shirley Cornwell in Minneapolis on November 15, 1925, she was the oldest of four children of Agnes Harrang Cornwell and Finch J. Cornwell. She was raised on farms near Spring Valley, and in the city of Minneapolis, graduating as salutatorian of Spring Valley High School in 1943. From there she attended Macalester College and the University of Minnesota, from which she got her degree in 1947. Shirley participated in Christian Students in Government in Washington, D.C. Her first “real” job was teaching in a one-room school, Walkermine, a small mining settlement in Plumas County, Calif., (snow blocked the only road in winter; if there was a medical emergency, the patient had a cold ride down the mountain in the tram used for the ore!) Subsequently, she taught in Oberlin, Ohio, Lincoln, Mass., and Lansingburgh, Troy, N.Y. While living in Jackson, Miss., she was the office manager for Women in Community Service (WICS), which recruited, screened, and sent young women to Job Corps Centers in the United States. While residing in Birmingham, England, she volunteered at the Winson Greene Prison Reception Center.
Shirley married Richard D. Hathaway in 1949, and they were divorced in 1972. As a 40-year resident of New Paltz, N.Y., Shirley was involved in many community activities, including the creation of a day care center for the children of migrant workers, worked for the Board of Cooperative Educational Services, taught in the West Park School District, was an employee of Mohonk Mountain House, a tutor of English at SUNY New Paltz, a guide on its historic Huguenot Street. She made for the soup kitchen for those who needed a bite to eat and a bit of company, and prison visitation as a member of the New Paltz Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) little house became a beacon of welcome to many neighbors, friends, and strangers, young and old, many of whom became fast friends. She also became the de facto family historian, writing many anecdotes and short stories from her life experiences.
Having been born into “large and wise families” (which included Ida Harrang Fabian who preceded Shirley teaching in a one-room schoolhouse), Shirley travelled back to visit, bringing her two children and then grandchildren, which over the years spanned five generations: “because it is important that children know where they came from.”
She is survived by her brother and sister-in-law Ron and Joan Cornwell of Edina, Minn., sister Anne and brother-in-law Roy Kingsley of Arizona, sister-in-law Gerry Cornwell of Arizona, daughter and son-in-law Linda and Andrew Ellis, daughter-in-law Irene Sweeney, grandchildren Jonah Ellis, Sharon Olsen, and Ben Ellis; and six great-grandchildren, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends, young and old.
Shirley was predeceased by her brother Richard “Dick” Cornwell, a long-time teacher and principal in Minneapolis. She was also predeceased by her son Bruce Hathaway of Queens, N.Y., a musician and composer.