Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Shirley Magrath

 

December 24, 2020

Shirley Magrath

Shirley Magrath

Shirley Eileen Brannan Magrath, Colfax native, passed away December 13, 2020, at her home in Spokane, with her family by her side. She was 86. Due to statewide covid restrictions, a private, family-only graveside service will be held in the Colfax Cemetery on December 29th at 1:00 pm, after a private showing from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. At her request we will hold a Celebration of Life for her later in 2021 once pandemic restrictions have abated.

Shirley was born March 12, 1934, in Colfax to Tom and Ada Walker Brannan. Shirley and her younger sister Arlene grew up in the family home near the top of Lake Street prior to permanently moving to the family ranch that is now Klemgard Park on Union Flat. She was a majorette in the Colfax High School marching band and graduated in 1952 with the hope of becoming a nurse. After graduation she entered the nursing program at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane. However, this potential career was cut short when she was convinced by two of her nursing friends to join them on a blind date with three young airmen from Fairchild Air Force Base. She and Jean Magrath married on March 7, 1954, at the Methodist Church in Colfax. Incidentally, the other two couples on that date also married (and remained married "as long as you both shall live") and remained lifelong friends. Shirley and Jean started their family while living the life of a military couple. They moved numerous times as Jean's assignments changed. Over the years they called California, Virginia, Texas, and Colorado home; and while Jean was stationed remotely in Alaska on two separate 1-year stints, Shirley moved back to Colfax with the kids in order to have much needed support from her parents during those challenging times.

Even when she was not being the "single mom", Shirley kept very busy as the consummate homemaker, wife, and mom to their three kids. But as time permitted, and the daily needs of the kids subsided, she found time to pursue other interests. Her most important wish was fulfilled once the kids were out of the house. She joined the Catholic Church and called St. Thomas More in Spokane her spiritual home until her passing. Throughout her entire adult life, her passion was baking, and she never gave up looking for and clipping from a newspaper or magazine that one recipe destined to be her next great tasty treat, even though many of these clippings never became reality in recent years. But her "ring-a-lings", banana bread and peanut brittle will live on forever in family lore. Her Mixmaster always sat on the kitchen counter as there was simply no reason to put it away. The entire family loved her goodies, so it was only logical that she would take on the daunting task of baking wedding cakes for her children when that time came around! Other hobbies included ceramics and macramé, ultimately leading to her grandest venture, quilting, which she excelled at until her macular degeneration simply made that too difficult.

Following Jean's retirement from the Air Force in 1971, they settled into a home in the Five Mile area in Spokane, and Jean worked for another 22 years for the Post Office there. They enjoyed travelling to see old friends and family and would even hop aboard a military cargo plane a few times a year to travel to Alaska when their eldest son and family lived in Anchorage in the 1980's.

Shirley will forever be remembered for her extraordinary compassion and generosity toward anyone who was lucky enough to have been a part of her family or anyone who had the privilege of having her as their friend. Shirley is survived by her husband of 66 years (and 9 months), Jean, at their residence in Spokane; their three children, Tom (Sue) Magrath of Leavenworth, Karen (Fred) Etten of Spokane, and Jim (Shelle) Magrath of Phoenix; six grandchildren, Megan(Shauna) Magrath, Brian (Kelly) Magrath, Rachel Etten, Nicole (Zach) Martin, Nickolas Etten, and Jake (Emily) Magrath; and her three great-grandchildren, Payton, Cullen, and Liam. She was preceded in death by her sister Arlene Brannan Grimes, and by her parents. Memorial gifts in her memory to the American Cancer Society or the American Diabetes Association would be greatly appreciated. An on-line guest book is available at http://www.bruningfuneralhome.com.

Bruning Funeral Home of Colfax is caring for the family.

 

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