Shirley Shipp died in her home on April 1, 2017. Barbara Lacks called Shirley in the afternoon to check on her and during the conversation Shirley explained that she was having trouble breathing. Barbara came as fast as she could. When Barbara arrived at Shirley’s home she found that she had already passed. She died in the same room as her husband, John Shipp 1939-2009.
Shirley was born at home in the town of Drakes Branch, Virginia in 1944; the daughter of Radford McKinney Foster 1889-1956 and Lillie Agnes Lacks 1912-1985. She was preceded in death by her brother Lawrence Daniel Foster 2003 and her sister Louise Cornelia Foster 2016. She is survived by her oldest brother Radford M. Foster of Charleston, South Carolina, her daughter, Kate Martin of Farnham, Virginia, her two sons, John Shipp, Jr. of Seattle Washington, Paul Shipp of Topeka, Kansas, two step-children, Joyce Barger and Jerry Shipp. Shirley was blessed with seventeen 17 grandchildren, twenty-nine 29 great-grandchildren and four 4 great-great-grandchildren.
Shirley had quite the reputation for being the most fun. There never was a boring moment when Shirley was in the room. I remember as a child my mother telling stories of hanging out with friends and getting into all kinds of trouble with friends in her home town of Drakes Branch, Virginia. She often told stories of what she did “right here” and “over there” when we would pass through various parts of the state of Virginia. Shirley kept in touch with every friend she had as much as she possibly could, including many of her childhood friends. I remember as child going to visit her friends scattered throughout Virginia and watching her socialize and laugh and show everyone what it meant to have a good time.
I still giggle at the memory of my mom saying “It’s Shirley Squirrely” on her CB Radio; she managed to make hours long drives that could have been super-boring, into great fun. As a matter-of-fact, just driving around for no good reason was something she often enjoyed doing. At times when she would take long drives and always seemed to find someone to stop by and say hi to, and when that happened it was not unusual to end up spending hours at the person’s home just talking, sharing stories, food and playing games.
Shirley was known for being quite the host. She loved to throw a party for friends, sometimes randomly, and for no reason. It was not unusual to find her sitting at her picnic table in her front yard with an extension cord and a blender making drinks for friends; quite the draw. She loved a good joke and could tell a few herself. She was the life of the party and often the brightest light in the room.
Shirley was blessed with a terrific, loving, concerned church family who did an excellent job caring for her and keeping her children informed of her well-being. Shirley’s remains have been cremated. In lieu of flowers it is requested that donations be sent to the Community Gospel Church, 4356 Old Crab Orchard Rd., Keysville, VA 23954. A Memorial Service will be conducted by her Pastor, Dewey Barker at 7pm on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at the Community Gospel Church 4356 Old Crab Orchard Road.

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