Shirley Ann (Landry) Edgerly

Published 4:57 pm Monday, December 19, 2022

Shirley (Landry) Edgerly: A good and faithful, if sassy, servant

Shirley Ann (Landry) Edgerly, a lifelong resident of Port Arthur, Texas, passed away December 16, 2022, at her home. Shirley was born November 2, 1933 to Emile Joseph Landry and Eunice Marie (Romero) Boutte. Shirley attended St. Mary’s Elementary School, graduated from Bishop Byrne High School/St. Mary’s section in 1951, and was a proud member of the Belles of St. Mary.

Shirley and her sister Betty’s home was very quiet and structured. Emile worked in the refineries and was a union leader. Eunice was a stay-at-home Mom, who made a happy home for the family. There were lots of children in the neighborhood, so there was a great deal of outside playtime with friends. Fortunately, many of her childhood friendships were long-lasting, including friendships with Alberta, Dorothy, Emily,  Merle, Nancy, Teresa, and Rosemary.

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Shirley was kind to her friends, but a bit rebellious to authority. Shirley’s friend Teresa cried when she entered school, and Shirley assured Teresa that they would sit together so she could stop crying. It worked. However, the nun didn’t approve of Shirley choosing her own seat and banished her to the hall.

She didn’t really understand why it was more important to sit in the assigned seat than to help a friend, but she took the consequences dealt to her. Shirley’s sister Betty noted that there were lots of rules at home and school that Shirley didn’t follow. Shirley was called to the principal’s office a couple of times for, among other things, being sassy to the nuns!

Shirley Ann (Landry) Edgerly

One time Betty was called to the principal’s office to give a message to their parents. The principal wanted them to do something about Shirley. Betty told the principal that they had tried, but that they couldn’t do anything either!

Shirley’s uncles gave her the nickname “Joe” after Joe Lewis (world heavyweight champion) because Shirley wanted to be a fist fighter! Her fighting spirit included fighting for her sister. One time when walking home, a boy was talking to a group of kids that included Shirley and Betty.

Shirley was suspicious of the boy talking to Betty, so she threw a rock at the boy to scare him off. Betty lamented that she might have lost a possible boyfriend. Unfortunately, the boy tattled, and Shirley got in trouble again.

One rule of Emile and Eunice’s home was that their daughters were not allowed to wear shorts out in public, but Shirley had another idea. She secreted a pair of shorts in her purse and changed into them at a friend’s house.

Port Arthur was not a big town, however, and Emile got wind of the transgression. Shirley had to cancel a Saturday night date and instead had to walk to the movie with her Mom and Dad right past many of her friends who were hanging out along the way.

Shirley had many friends and dated a few boys, but one day she spotted a cute guy with an Elvis Presley hairstyle in her chemistry class. She pushed a pencil in his hair, and a more than 70 year love story began. The cute guy, Nelson David Edgerly, and Shirley were married September 20, 1952. Nelson and Shirley were devout Catholics and planned to have 12 children in honor of the movie Cheaper By The Dozen. Eventually, however, they decided that 9 children was “cheap” enough!

Nelson and Shirley not only loved dancing, but were also quite good at it. They joined the San Souci Social Club and went dancing and dining every few weeks. Shirley and Nelson as a couple and with children spent many a fun hour visiting with other big families. The families played guitars, sang, and visited places like Dam Bee and Taylor’s Bayou.

Nelson and Shirley vacationed with friends sans children at times, as well, especially when Nelson traveled on union business. Shirley developed mutually supportive friendships with many of her 13th Street neighbors, including Peggy Arrant and Lorraine Dunham and was a mother to others, including Della Sue (Johnson) Nugier.

Shirley was taught to sew at a young age and became a very creative seamstress. She made most of her own clothes as a teenager and made formal dresses for the many dances attended by her five daughters. Shirley taught her daughters and some grand daughters to sew and iron in preparation for them making their own home.

Shirley was very handy around the house. If a light switch, plug, small appliance, washer, or dryer was broken, Shirley could fix it. She also taught many of her children how to jack up a car, jump a car, and change a tire. And of course Shirley never missed an opportunity to teach her children about the role God played in everyday life.

When starting the car was an “iffy” affair, she  would instruct her children to pray that the car would start. Many a “Hail Mary” was uttered on those occasions, and many a miracle of a car starting occurred due to those powerful prayers! Aside from traditional Catholic practices, Shirley often found moments of zen by spending hours cutting the grass (including the ditch!). She cut grass well into her 70s.

Shirley was a good and faithful servant to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Port Arthur, Texas. As a founding member, Shirley dedicated countless hours and enormous energy to the parish and helped build many of the parish organizations. Shirley served as an officer of the Altar Society, Parish Council, Liturgy Committee, and Bereavement Committee.

She also served as an advisor to the parish’s Catholic Youth Organization and as a eucharistic minister, lector, and money counter. Shirley helped fundraise for parish organizations by baking a monumental number of cakes and squash casseroles, dishing out mountains of spaghetti in the parish hall, and selling boudin balls at Mardi Gras festivals.

Shirley’s spiritual devotion led her to attend an Acts Retreat, an inspirational experience about which she spoke many times. Her ability to form relationships continued unabated, and she is blessed with many long-term friends from St. Joseph’s. Yet as busy as she was supporting her parish, she found time to support organizations in which her children participated. She sold concessions for and was a big fan of the Gators baseball team and the Bishop Byrne High School football team. Shirley served on the Bishop Byrne High School school board and fought tirelessly to keep Bishop Byrne open.

For over 35 years, Shirley worked passionately as an election official in Jefferson County to ensure that elections ran smoothly and were conducted fairly. She served for several years as a pollworker, and her service culminated in being appointed as Precinct Judge.

She also attended numerous Democratic Conventions at both the national and state level, often as a delegate. Additionally, Shirley began working for Jason’s Deli after her youngest child entered high school and did so for around 10 years. She was very good at any job undertaken, and not surprisingly became manager of the Jason’s Deli at Central Mall.

Shirley was a loving, fair-minded mother. The rules of behavior were clear and consequences swift, unless the infraction was so grievous that punishment was delayed until Nelson got off of his graveyard shift! Shirley made sure all of her children attended parochial school and didn’t miss church on Sunday.

She lived in a way that modeled devotion, determination, and sufficient patience. Over the years, many who met her children have commended them on their work ethic and tenacious determination to complete a job well. She raised strong, capable, independent children. There is no doubt that Shirley’s hard-working, agile approach to life positively informed the way her children have made their way in the world.

As a loving service to her children and grandchildren, Shirley would often spend a week or two in the home of her new grandchild. She believed in the importance of sharing time and touch with her grandbabies, so the grandmother/grandchild bond could be formed. Shirley’s children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren love, respect, and appreciate her immensely.

Like any other person, Shirley’s life was filled with trials and heartache, as well as love and fun. Shirley is an example of someone who was accepting of and dealt as well as possible with whatever life sent her way, the good and the bad.

Shirley had a knack for connecting with anyone she met, from a visitor at church to a nurse at the hospital. As a lifelong resident of Port Arthur, Shirley knew many people, and with enough warm questioning, she could find someone she knew who was known by her new friend. She was also a very kind, compliant patient, so she got a 5-star rating from her caregivers at the hospital and at home.

On that note, we’d like to thank Suzanna Ahmed, Princella Batiste, Valerie Brooks, Edna McZeal, and Mildred Rivera for their loving care of Shirley this past year and Maria White for her service to both Nelson and Shirley over these past 3 years. The family sends a special thanks to the nurses and aids at Intrepid Hospice who cared so sweetly for Shirley in her final days.

Shirley made her home a place of comfort and acceptance. Many of her children’s spouses and friends loved being in her home and around her. She always made sure there was food to eat and beds or couches to sleep on. Shirley taught her children and others that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all, and she lived that maxim faithfully.

At the end, Shirley shared some words of wisdom.

To married couples: “Be kind to each other and be good friends.”

To everyone: “Love one another and help each other when necessary. You don’t have to give everything, but help each other when necessary.”

What she wants people to know about her. “Tell them I was sassy!”

Shirley Ann Landry Edgerly leaves behind her loving children Davette Colichia and husband Danny of Bridge City, Cheryl Hebert of Port Arthur, Lynette Lindner and husband Mark of Cheshire, CT, Nelson Edgerly, Jr. and wife Cheryl of Groves, Tammy Edgerly of Austin, Michael Edgerly of Port Neches, Alvin Edgerly and wife Vickie of Orange, Ragan Edgerly and wife Kristine of Austin, and Susan Martinez and husband Glenn of Austin; her sisters, Betty Richard of Austin, Gayle Burrows and husband John of Austin; nephew, Keith Richard of Austin.  Shirley also leaves behind 32 grandchildren and 28 great grandchildren. She is preceded in death by her husband, Nelson, parents Emile and Eunice, and son-in-law Carson Hebert, niece Ann Richard and brother-in-law Martin Richard.

A visitation for Shirley Ann Landry Edgerly was held at Clayton Thompson Funeral Home on Tuesday, December 20, from 5-8 p.m. with a rosary at 6:00.  A funeral mass was held at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on Wednesday, December 21, at 10:00 a.m followed by interment at Greenlawn Memorial Park. A luncheon was held at St. Joseph’s in Cody Hall following interment. In lieu of flowers, a memorial donation may be made to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.