Shirley M. Jirele, 88

Published 7:01 am Sunday, November 6, 2016

Shirley M. Jirele, age 88, passed away in Tempe, Arizona, on Nov. 1, 2016.

She was born in Spring Grove, Minnesota, on Nov. 9, 1927, to Theodore and Agnes Wennes, the oldest of five children. She grew up in Austin, Minnesota, and received her Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance and music education from St. Olaf College in 1949.



Shirley taught public school vocal music in Westby, Wisconsin, for two years before returning to Austin, where she taught private voice lessons. She married her beloved Edward L. Jirele in 1952.

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Shirley was a member of St. Olaf Lutheran Church where she directed the high school Chapel Choir for 30 years. She felt that her musical talents were God-given, and she used them to His glory. Hundreds of young people grew in their faith because of their time in the Chapel Choir.

Shirley realized her dream of singing professionally when she was invited to join the Gregg Smith Singers, with whom she toured from 1965 to 1970. She was honored to be inducted into the Austin High School Music Hall of Fame in its inaugural year.

Shirley and Ed moved to Tempe in 1984, where they were active members of King of Glory Lutheran Church. Ed died in 1988. In the years following, Shirley spent many hours singing and playing the piano for the residents of Westchester Senior Living Center in Tempe.

In addition to her husband, she was preceded in death by her granddaughter, Debbie Unruh in 2007. She is survived by her daughters, Pamela Hagstrom (Dennis), Debra Borton-McDonough (Bob), and Jane Lightle; son, Jeffrey Jirele; sister, Orpha Price; brother, Howard Wennes; nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

A special thank you to the staff at Westchester Senior Living Center for their wonderful care during the last 3 years of Shirley’s life.

A Service of Witness to the Resurrection will be held on Friday, Nov. 4, at King of Glory Lutheran Church in Tempe, beginning at 11 a.m. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service. Burial will take place at Green Acres Cemetery in Scottsdale, Arizona. Memorial contributions may be made to the ELCA World Hunger Appeal or St. Olaf Lutheran Church, in memory of Shirley Jirele.

Arrangements are by the Tempe Mortuary.