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Shirley Rich was born to her loving, Christian parents, Earnest & Zeloise Rich, on May 23, 1948. Shirley was the youngest of a sibship of four. She passed from her earthly labors to reward on Thursday, January 5, 2023, at her home, surrounded by the love of her daughter, Monica, after a lengthy illness.
Shirley spent her formative years in Northport, Alabama, where she attended Matthews Elementary School and graduated from Riverside High School. She was a member of the Riverside Tigers Marching band, played the clarinet, and sang with “The Bobettes.” She was also crowned Ms. Riverside Homecoming Attendant and was involved in an array of other activities and organizations. She received accolades for her creativity and design. She attended Tennessee State University and later received her Bachelor's degree in Sociology and Master's of Social Work degree from The University of Michigan. Shirley was also a licensed clinical and macro-level social worker in the State of Michigan.
Shirley possessed an innate passion for helping other individuals, which led her to her service as a behavioral health therapist. She worked for over 40 years prior to her retirement in 2013. Shirley worked in multiple capacities under the human services umbrella, from Case Manager, Social Worker, Therapist, Mentor, and Group Leader. She had a special place in her heart for mentoring young girls. She believed in helping and sharing with others in any way possible, Spending most of her career as an avid advocate with a compassionate heart,
Shirley gave her life to the Lord with her confession of faith at a very early age at New Zion Baptist Church in Northport, Alabama. Shirley was a devout Christian and member of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, under the pastoral leadership and guidance of Rev. Dr. Charles Gilchrist Adams and Rev. Charles Christian Adams.
Shirley was the heart and soul of a closely-knit family. Her personality was magnetic, and her smile was electric, lighting up a room when she entered. The tapestry and fabric of her life were entwined with love, compassion, joy, and jubilation.
She was the youngest, but indeed the glue and anchor that held the family together. She loved having family gatherings where she could display her fine culinary skills. She loved sewing, designing her own clothes, and decorating her beautiful home.
In her last days, she spent time talking to her daughter, Monica, about some of her fondest childhood memories, including watching her mother bake biscuits from scratch, making mud cakes, splashing in the water when it rains, shopping with her mother downtown, and getting some doll string from Big Poppa.
Preceding her in death were her parents, Earnest and Zeloise Rich; brothers, Cephus and Earlie Rich; and nephews, Reginald Wilson and Victor Blackburn. Her surviving loved ones include her beloved daughter, Monica Rich-McLaurin; her sister, Dorothy Rich-Robinson; sister-in-law, Evelyn S. Rich; a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.