Published: December 11, 2013
Shirley Louise Hargarten
04/24/1927 - 12/04/2013
Shirley Hargarten was a joyful, cheerful, independent woman.
Shirley was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As a girl she enjoyed Sunday school, fishing, dancing, family, friends, and summers on her Grandma’s farm. Little Shirley spent her days on that farm playing with the animals and dressing the kittens in doll clothes she had made. As a teenager Shirley worked very hard cleaning houses and as a soda jerk at a local drug store.
On June 1st, 1946, Shirley married her childhood sweetheart, Bob, and they embarked on their 67 year life of adventure. The young couple had no idea that Bob’s Naval career would have them see the world. Embracing life as a Navy wife, Shirley loved living around the world and moving every 2 years. Prior to a move Shirley would study the language, culture, and customs she would soon explore. In all, she lived in or visited 36 countries and attempted to speak Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and Tagalog. Raising 4 active children-Diane, Jim, Don and Teresa-kept Shirley on her toes as Bob was frequently away on duty. Teaching by example her children learned to live life to the fullest, help others, explore, have fun, and laugh often.
Shirley believed that “everyone is a child of God and should be treated with kindness and respect.” This belief was the driving force behind her volunteer work around the world. Hospitals and orphanages in Japan, the Philippines, Sicily, and New York welcomed her smile and assistance. The orphanages she helped in the Philippines had no electricity, no running water, nor help from other organizations. Shirley asked other Officer’s wives and husbands to go with her and they would never make a second trip as the conditions were so bad they were overcome with emotion. She was the only person that returned on a regular basis, offering hope, teaching health care, bringing food and clothes, teaching English, and sharing her joy.
After traveling all over the world, Shirley and Bob retired in Santa Paula. Retirement did not slow Shirley down; instead she embraced her own quote “Life will not be boring if you keep on learning.” She took classes in computer technology, painting, First Aid, Mahjong, arts and crafts, and whole wheat baking. She became the Welcome Wagon Hostess, joined Ebell Club, AARP, organized 2 bridge groups, participated in weekly Bible Study, participated in Chamber of Commerce events, and being an active member in Red Hat Society was a lot of fun. Tending to her own beautiful rose garden brought her much happiness. Continuing her volunteerism, Shirley was a Catholic Religion education teacher for 34 years at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Taking her role of sharing and teaching her Catholic faith very seriously, she studied and planned every lesson. She wanted her students to enjoy her class. Her young second graders would comment on how fun their class was because they acted out each lesson, sang songs, laughed, and were praised for learning their prayers. In true Shirley fashion, every class concluded with a “hurray” and clapping.
Fierce in her pursuit of good health, she enjoyed years of golfing, jogging, jazzercise, bowling, horseback riding, roller-skating, walking, Curves, Zumba, belly dancing, yoga, surfing, and tai-chi. Perhaps most inspiringly, despite not knowing how to swim, she took up white water rafting at the age of 70.
Her love of family and independence shined as she traveled alone to visit grandchildren in Japan, the Philippines, Germany, Colorado, Illinois, and Hawaii. Shirley made memorable pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Lourdes, Fatima, Medjugorje, and Guadalupe. Later in life she was a frequent passenger on many cruises to the Bahamas, Panama Canal, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Russia, New England, Mexico, and of course making many friends along the way.
Shirley’s enduring and endearing gifts of empathy, curiosity, positivity, patience, and humor have been forever instilled in her husband, children, 10 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.
Throughout her life Shirley embodied genuine kindness.
Family requests in lieu of flowers for an act of kindness to be carried out and/or donations be made to: (1) Alzheimer’s Association, www.alz.org, at 255 N. Michigan Ave FL.17, Chicago, IL 60601 and/or to (2) Columban Fathers, an international Catholic organization helping children, www.columban.org, at PO Box 10, St. Columbans, NE 68056.
Services for Shirley will be held on Thursday, December 12, 2013, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church located at 10800 Henderson Rd, Ventura, CA 93004. Rosary will be held at 10:00 AM followed by Mass at 10:30 AM. Interment will be private.