Serving Whitman County since 1877

Shirley Ann (Baldwin) Melville

Dec. 20, 1934 - Feb. 3, 2023

Shirley Ann Baldwin was born on December 20, 1934, in Spokane, Washington, to Lyle Eugene and Elva (Hoffman) Baldwin. Shirley grew up on a farm outside of Sprague, Wash., near Crab Creek with her younger sister Betty. Shirley's parents separated when she was a teenager. Shirley continued to spend most of her time in Sprague with her father after her mother moved to Montana.

Shirley attended school in Sprague, where she met her future husband, J. Curtis Melville, in the first grade. Shirley was valedictorian, and Curtis was salutatorian when they graduated from Sprague High School in 1952. They both went on to graduate from Washington State University in Pullman, where Shirley got a degree in Bacteriology in 1956.

Shirley and Curtis married in 1957 and moved to Xenia, Ohio, where Curtis was stationed in the Air Force. Shirley gave birth to their first child, Jim, while in Xenia in December 1958. Their children Andrea, Dave, and Burke were born in 1960, 1963, and 1965 after they moved back to Sprague and then to the Melville homestead in Lamont. They lived there until 1966, farming wheat and alfalfa and raising cattle. Shirley had an impressive garden, canned fruit, made her own pickles, jams and jellies, and even churned butter.

In subsequent years, the family moved a number of times as Curtis earned his graduate degrees and had a career as a research biochemist. They lived in Pullman, Washington; Williamston, Michigan; Moses Lake, Washington, and St. Louis, Missouri, and spent six years in Tracy, California. before finally returning to the Melville homestead in Lamont in 1980. Throughout these moves, Shirley continued gardening, canning, playing the piano, and caring for many animals including cats, dogs, ducks, and chickens in addition to her four kids. She also worked in hospitals and as a lab technician while in Ohio, and as a technician at the local water treatment center in Tracy. Shirley's kids have fond memories of family fishing and camping trips, and road-trips to visit grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Shirley seemed to especially love life on the farm in Lamont, where there was a lot to keep the family busy year-round. There was often a calf (or two) in the barn that needed to be bottle-fed in the winter, and occasionally one would end up in the house. During harvest time, Shirley would bring special lunches to the field, and would sometimes drive a wheat truck. When Curtis passed away from cancer in 1995, Shirley worked with her sons Jim and Burke to continue managing the farm.

Burke and his wife Liz settled in across the street from the ranch house and had three kids, Oakley, Tracy, and Rose. Before and after Burke's death in 2012, his kids spent a great deal of time at their Grandma Shirley's home. Dave's daughter Marlen and Andrea's kids Katie and Russell also enjoyed frequent visits on the farm. Shirley enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren, and seeing them grow up over the years. She read with them and helped them learn things by showing them. A visit to Grandma's almost always included a trip to the barn to visit barn cats and other creatures.

Shirley moved to Rockwood Retirement Home, in Spokane, in January of 2020, where she spent the last few years of her life. She died on February 3rd, 2023, surrounded by family.


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