June 26, 1936 - December 12, 201
Shirley Gilliland, loving mother, grandmother, great grandmother and sister, passed away on December 12, 2019, in Seattle, Washington at the age of 83. Shirley was an amazing woman with a very strong faith and a dedicated, loving, supportive minister’s wife for over 62 years. Her cheerful, fun, kind, supportive, loving presence is being profoundly missed by many, most notably her family who adored her beyond words.
Shirley was born to Stanley and Jane Miller on June 26, 1936 in Renton, Washington. She was raised in a loving family in Seattle and had a very happy childhood. She was a Girl Scout, a Rainbow Girl and was active in her youth group at Boulevard Park Presbyterian Church. At church, Shirley met the love of her life, Harlan Gilliland. Shirley graduated from Highline High School in 1954 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Education Degree from Whitworth College in 1958.
Shirley and Harlan were married at Boulevard Park Presbyterian Church on June 14, 1957. In November of 1958, they welcomed their first daughter, Cindy. After Harlan graduated in 1959, they moved across the country for Harlan to attend Princeton Theological Seminary and Shirley took a job at the Hun School. Their second daughter, Cheri, was born in November of 1960.
After Harlan graduated from Princeton, they moved to Auburn, Washington where Harlan was the Assistant Minister at White River United Presbyterian Church. Two years later, they moved to Vashon Island where Harlan became the minister of the First Presbyterian Church of Vashon Island. In July of 1964, they welcomed their third daughter, Christie. On Vashon, Shirley was involved with the Ryther Child Center, taught Sunday school and opened a preschool with a friend. The family spent 3 summers in San Anselmo while Harlan attended San Francisco Theological Seminary.
In 1971, the family moved to Spokane, Washington where Harlan became the minister of Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church. Shirley created a loving, happy home for her family. She was a wonderful hostess and the family had many memorable celebrations and Christmas Open Houses. She was well known for her hospitality and culinary expertise. Shirley loved to travel and they went on many family vacations including an exchange in Scotland and an unforgettable trip through Europe in the summer of 1981.
In Spokane, Shirley worked at Hamblen Elementary School. Shirley had many talents. She was an excellent seamstress and was very artistic. She was known for her great bulletin boards, her calligraphy, her dried bouquets, her many arts and crafts, and the many beautiful albums she made over the years. Shirley was very involved in the church. She was an ordained deacon in the Presbyterian Church, created 3 church cookbooks and was active in vacation bible school, the fall harvest festivals, women’s fellowship and youth group activities. She was a Brownie leader, a Girl Scout cookie mom, and, for 9 years, Shirley danced and sang alongside Harlan in the Ham on Regal Ferris Shows, a fundraiser for the girls’ high school.
During this time, all 3 daughters graduated from high school and college. Education was extremely important to Shirley and Harlan so this was a major and joyful accomplishment. Cindy and Cheri both got married in Spokane and blessed them with 5 grandchildren.
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In 1987, they moved to Longview, Washington where Harlan became the senior pastor at Longview Community Church. Shirley worked in the library at Cascade Middle School. She was very involved in the church and was a member of PEO. She produced 2 more church cook books and was a devoted member of Ruth Circle. Shirley loved history and was instrumental in starting the Longview Community Church History Museum for which she received an award from the Cowlitz County Historical Association. Shirley was also the family historian and an active genealogist.
In Longview, they found their dream home. Shirley always made a beautiful home for her family with flowers all around and special decorations for every holiday. She again hosted many memorable social events. Shirley and Harlan enjoyed movies, plays, pinochle, gourmet restaurants, high tea, traveling, going to the beach, family gatherings and Husky Football. Most of all, they just loved being together.
Throughout her life, Shirley was known for her keen ability to seek out amazing restaurants and great travel destinations which she loved sharing with her family and friends. In later years, she and Harlan planned and went on many trips including one where they attended Jimmy Carter’s Sunday School Class and got their picture taken with Jimmy’s arm around her.
In 1992, tragedy struck with the unexpected death of their oldest daughter, Cindy. Shirley and Harlan assumed custody of Cindy’s two daughters, Becky and Mandy, and raised them with great love and joy. They loved and cherished many wonderful memories with all of their grandchildren.
After Harlan retired, they continued their ministry as interims at 3 different churches - First Presbyterian Church of Kelso, Longview Presbyterian Church, and the Onalaska Community Presbyterian Church. They also started and led the Senior Adult Ministry (SAM) group at Longview Community Church. Harlan and Shirley were partners. While Harlan may have been the name on the payroll, Shirley was the one behind the scenes helping to plan, research, proofread, talk through, comfort, and be of endless support to Harlan. For the SAM group, in particular, Shirley was the idea person and Harlan was the implementer. This was the way it was throughout their ministry. A true team in every sense of the word.
In 2016, Shirley lost the love of her life, Harlan. This was a devastating loss, but Shirley showed the depth and strength of her character and of her faith as she led the whole family through this sad time while dealing with her own deep grief.
Her family was so proud of her for all of the hard work she did to take care of everything necessary to settle their affairs, sell the house and move up to Enumclaw to live with Christie. She joined Calvary Presbyterian Church where she made friends and enjoyed Circle C, bible study and playing pinochle. Shirley and Christie enjoyed many wonderful times and had many fun adventures together. While Christie worked, Shirley would find new things for them to do and would keep Malcolm, her grand dog, company. Her family continued to grow with 3 more great grandsons born during this time bringing the total to 8 great grandchildren. Shirley also enjoyed reconnecting with her high school friends, Lucille and Sharnette. She attended Highline High School Class of 1954 lunches and last July attended her 65th high school reunion. Shirley was full of life and fun and had many plans pending when her time was so suddenly and unexpectedly cut short. While the family misses her tremendously, they rejoice in knowing that Shirley and Harlan have been reunited and are once again with their firstborn, Cindy. Shirley was a good and faithful servant of God. Glory be to God for the life of Shirley Gilliland.
Shirley was preceded in death by her husband, The Rev. Dr. Harlan Lee Gilliland, Jr., her daughter, Cindy Chilingerian, and her parents, Stanley and Jane Miller. She is survived by her daughters, Cheri Francis (John) and Christie Gilliland, her grandchildren, Becky Yam (Joseph), Amanda Lopez (Eldave), Kiri Abbas (Vince), Kendall Beckwith (Jasmine), and Lyssa Beckwith, her great grandchildren, Sawyer, Gracie, and Tucker Abbas, Malakai, Kobe, and Kahleo Lopez, and Kaleb and Blake Beck with, her brother Stan Miller (Cheryl), her sisters, Marlyce Hays (Larry), and Mollie Lamoureaux, and many nieces and nephews.
Shirley will be remembered in a Celebration of Life to be held on February 8th, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. at Longview Community Church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be made to the Harlan & Shirley Gilliland Endowed Scholarship at Whitworth University, Institutional Advancement, 300 W . Hawthorne Rd, Spokane, WA 99251 or online at https://connect.whitworth.edu/ Gilliland