Shirley Ann Henwood

Shirley Ann Henwood

Feb. 16, 1933 – Jan. 25, 2022

Longtime Homer resident Shirley Ann Henwood passed away Jan. 25, 2022 at Aspen Creek Senior Living in Kenai.

Shirley was born in Aberdeen, South Dakota, on Feb. 16, 1933 to Ruby and Tony Blando.

The family moved to Spearfish, South Dakota, where she grew up and graduated from Spearfish High School. She married her high school sweetheart Walt Henwood on June 23, 1951. Shirley and Walt lived on a farm in the Spearfish valley where they reared three children.

Shirley always wanted to pursue higher education, so when their youngest of three children turned 5 and went off to Kindergarten, Shirley started her college education. She attended Black Hills Teachers College in Spearfish, South Dakota. Shirley earned her teaching degree and her first teaching job was in Belle Fourche, South Dakota. Recruiters from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District came to the college in Spearfish to recruit teachers for their district. Shirley set up a meeting, they offered her a contract on the spot, and she signed, and then went home and told her husband and three children “We are moving to Alaska.” In August 1966, Homer, Alaska became home.

Shirley taught at East Homer Elementary (now PBE), Ninilchik Elementary and Chapman Elementary where she retired in 1990. During this time she continued her education and received a Masters Degree in Reading and went on to earn her administrative credentials. Shirley was a force, she had strong beliefs, she cared about students and education. She was a mentor to many educators, which included teachers as well as a few administrators. She fought for what she thought was the best for the students and the school. Along with this force, came a huge heart and a great sense of humor. A colleague said, “She was a great reading teacher, she taught me never to give up on a student. She taught me to keep what was working even if it was ‘old hat’ while you tested and tried new methods. Shirley was born to teach, and I was lucky to have her as a co-worker.”

Shirley was a devoted mother and always there for her three children, Shirlie, Tom and Debbie. She was so excited to become a grandmother and ended up with five grandchildren: Justin, Ashlie, Jennifer, Barrett and Ryan. She “grew up” with her grandkids, nevering missing an event or milestone in their lives. She loved them dearly. Her oldest grandchild said, “We are thankful for her work ethic and fighting spirit. For her to get a college education when she did and pursue a career in a strange place speaks a lot about her drive and what she wanted for herself and her family…we should all be thankful. I will always be grateful for the importance she placed on learning and education. I read ‘The Giving Tree’ by myself for the first time…no coincidence that I read my first book at Grandma’s house.” Shirley also had 11 great grandchildren that she was very proud of.

Shirley was a member of Beta Sigma Phi, Delta Kappa Gamma, served on the Homer Public Library Board and the Infant Learning Board.

Shirley was preceded in death by her parents; sister Joyce; brother Jerry.

She is survived by her husband of 70 years Walter Henwood of Homer; son and daughter in law Tom and Diane Henwood of Central Point, Oregon; daughter Shirlie Gribble of Homer; daughter and son in law Debbie and Bruce Turkington of Homer; grandsons Justin and Whitney Henwood of Franktown, Colorado; Barrett Gribble and Leslie Hubbard of Maple Falls, Washington; Ryan and Larissa Turkington of Homer; granddaughters Ashlie Turkington Bishop of Kirkland, Washington; Jennifer and Don Adams of Medford, Oregon; and 11 great grandchildren.

The family would like to give a heartfelt thank you to the loving care Mom was given at Aspen Creek Kenai, formerly Charis Place. We had the assurance that she was being well taken care of with love and dignity.

A Celebration of Life will be held later this summer.

Memorial donations may be made in Memory of Shirley to Homer Hospice 265 E Pioneer Ave Suite 3 Homer, AK 99603 or to a charity of your choice.