Obituary : Shirley M. Whitehead-Smith
Shirley May (Steere) Whitehead-Smith, 78, of Vineyard Haven, died on Friday evening, April 10, at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital after a brief illness.
She was the wife of Philip A. Smith, who predeceased her this past December, and Joseph Whitehead, who predeceased her in August of 1977. They wintered in Gantt, Ala., for many years.
Shirley was born and raised in Oak Bluffs on April 6, 1931, the oldest of the 11 children of Jesse Steere and Florence Catherine Thurber Steere. She was graduated from the Oak Bluffs High School class of 1949. This was in a time period before electricity and proper heating and the family survived on farming. Attending the Ag Fair and returning with blue ribbons for gardening and canning delights was a yearly event.
After high school, Shirley was the assistant town clerk for the Town of Oak Bluffs from 1951 until 1955. It was a job she thoroughly enjoyed. She then went to work as a bookkeeper for Brooks Carter at his hardware and electrical store on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. In 1973, she bought the business and renamed it Shirley's True Value Hardware and moved behind where the A&P (now Stop and Shop) store was in 1984. All the while, she was doing tax returns for Islanders.
She retired in 1992 and sold the business to her nephew, Jesse Steere, who now operates it on State Road in Vineyard Haven (and yes, Jesse's still making keys).
Shirley enjoyed reading and doing crossword puzzles.
She was the loving sister of Gloria Steere of Oak Bluffs, Janet Packish and her husband, George, of Falmouth, Nancy Howes and her husband, Richard, of Dennis, Rosemary Finley and her husband, Earl, of Madison, Ala., David Steere and his wife, Bonnie, of West Tisbury, and Stephen Steere and his wife, Tami, of Georgia. She was the stepmother of Kellie Gilbert and her husband, Duane, of Brockton, Holly Medas of Brockton, Stacey Stewart and her husband, Kevin, of Middleboro, and James Smith of Brockton. She was a devoted aunt of numerous nephews and nieces and great-nieces and great-nephews.
There were visiting hours in the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, in Oak Bluffs on Tuesday morning, April 14. A graveside service followed in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Oak Bluffs, officiated by the Rev. Arlene Bodge. Donations may be made in her memory to the Martha's Vineyard Hospital Building Fund, P.O. Box 1477, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. Please visit ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information.