Shirley Anne Cook, née McKillop, 96, passed peacefully away in Splendora, TX on January 3, 2024. She was in her own bedroom, surrounded by family members.
Shirley was born on February 22, 1927, to Nell and Vaughn McKillop in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Washington, she briefly attended Washington State University in Pullman before embarking on an extended road trip with her two friends, Polly and Wanda.
She met her first husband, Virgil (Willie) Jackson, a member of the Klamath Tribes of Southern Oregon and Northern California, whom she married in 1952. They had two sons, Peter Buschmann and Holli Jackson. Peter was adopted at birth by Fred and Alyce Buschmann of Alaska. After a divorce, Shirley moved with her son, Holli, back to the Seattle area. She began working at the Boeing Aircraft factory, and met her second husband, Walter Edison Marble Jr. after singing and playing the guitar in a lunchtime talent show. They married later that year, and Shirley gave birth to her third son, Walter (Mig), in 1954.
The family later relocated to Phoenix, Arizona, where Shirley worked at the Motorola factory. She and her husband were active in the Grand Canyon German Shepherd Dog Club. In 1966, the family moved to Reno, Nevada, where Shirley attended the University of Nevada, Reno, earning a Master’s Degree in Special Education. Following her graduation, the family settled in Fallon, Nevada, where she taught kindergarten and grade school. Her husband, Walter, served as the municipal poundmaster for many years. They divorced in 1978. Shirley retired from teaching in 1981 and subsequently moved to the Northern coast of California, residing in Trinidad and Crescent City.
Shirley's lifelong dedication to childhood education led her overseas later in life, first to teach Montessori classes at Marist Brothers International School in Kobe, Japan from 1982-1984, and then to a year of Peace Corps service at St. Kitts in the Caribbean in the early 1990s.
Back in California, she actively participated in the Trinidad Women’s Club and the local art communities of both Trinidad and Crescent City. Her volunteer work in Crescent City with The Gateway Partnership inspired her commitment to the beautification of her community. She subsequently founded the non-profit Redwood Mural Society, and served as its first president. Through her tireless organizing and fundraising efforts, she and dozens of local artists joined forces to create some of Crescent City’s most beautiful murals, including the Lighthouses mural on the Renner Building, the Jed Smith Mural on the Ace Building, and the Tsunami “Mural in a Day” project on the side of the former Del Norte Office Supply building.
In the 1990s, Shirley gradually retired from public life, visiting her two younger sons in Alaska, salmon fishing, and hiking the trails around Juneau with her beloved and faithful border collie, SuperDog. In 1997, she met and married Scott Cook, with whom she maintained a lifelong friendship despite their divorce a few years later.
From 1999 to 2004, Shirley owned and operated “Cottage by the Sea,” her vacation rental, just a few steps from Pebble Beach. Through her friendliness and commitment to sharing the beauty of her seaside community, she made numerous friends among the visitors who came to her door.
In 2010, Shirley realized a lifelong goal when, with the help of a professional investigator, she managed to locate and contact her first-born son, Peter Buschmann. She treasured her close relationship with all three of her sons over the years.
Shirley moved to Texas in 2017 to live with her youngest son’s family, who lovingly cared for her until the end.
Shirley was preceded in death by her parents, Vaughn and Nell McKillop, her sister Betty Woolworth, and one grandson, Aaron. She is survived by all three of her sons, Peter Buschmann, Holli Jackson, and Walter E Marble, six grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren, as well as her niece, Teri, and nephews Ron and Larry.
In lieu of traditional services, the family will hold a private ceremony, and at a later date, sprinkle her ashes in accordance with her wishes.