Updated Feb. 18, 12 pm. A previous version of this article incorrectly reported the hour of Mrs. Krikorian’s funeral Mass. The Mass will be held at 11am on Saturday, Feb. 20.
Shirley J. Krikorian died Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, peacefully in her sleep in the care of Windemere Nursing Home. She was 91.
Born in Oak Bluffs on May 5, 1924, she was the daughter of Charles Peters and Frances Broskey Peters. She spent the first part of her life living on Martha’s Vineyard with her father and sister Harriet. At age 11 she went to live with her mother and attended schools in Scranton, Pa. At the age of 17 she left Scranton to live with her beloved sister in Bristol, R.I., and graduated from Colt Memorial High School in 1942.
World War II had started, and she worked in two defense plants: Bristol Manufacturing Co., manufacturer of aviator boots, and Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, Conn. All was fine until one day Shirley saw a poster at the local Post Office encouraging women to enlist in the WAAC. That did it.
Off she went to Fort San Houston, Texas, for basic training in 1944. From there she was sent to New London, Conn., to work in recruiting, then she received orders to report to the Air Inspectors Office Headquarters First Air Force, Mitchell Field, N.Y. Shirley was a private secretary to the assistant inspector general, tasked with taking dictation, and she acted as a reporter for verbatim testimony in private investigations, did research and annotation of reports of investigations, and assisted in the verification of money accounts. Shirley loved flying to various destinations with the officers. World War II ended, as well as her fascinating position, and she chose to be discharged in 1946.
Shirley went back to Pennsylvania to spend some time with her mother, but she was restless, and then another poster appeared: “Civilian Personnel in the Armed Service Forces.” She took the civil service exam, passed, and was given an appointment as clerk stenographer in Tokyo, Japan. But that was not to be. Her mother and sister feared for her safety so soon after the war, and she canceled.
Finally, the Vineyard beckoned, and she came back. She met and married Henry O. Perry, and they had a son, David. To supplement their income, she took various jobs waitressing at local restaurants, bookkeeping at Vineyard Dry Goods, and taking Dictaphone stenography at the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital in Vineyard Haven until it was closed by the government. She waitressed at night for four summers at the Edgartown Café, the famous lobster restaurant. By then her marriage had begun to fail; it ended in divorce.
She married Edward Krikorian Jr. in Miami, Fla., in 1959, and they lived in Hollywood, Fla., for two years. In 1961, they came back to the Vineyard for the last time.
In 1962 her husband had knee surgery and was incapacitated for a while. To supplement their income, once again Shirley sought employment. She was hired by the Martha’s Vineyard Insurance Agency, and worked there for 11 years. By then her husband had done well in real estate, and encouraged her to retire. She did, and finally enjoyed the pleasures of “being home.” She was a communicant of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church.
In 1981 the couple began traveling extensively, for 10 years. The end of Shirley’s traveling came when they got their beautiful American Eskimo dog, Kodi. She wouldn’t leave him.
She was predeceased by her parents, her son, her sister, and her beloved husband. She is survived by a niece, Patricia Lawrence of Edgartown; two nephews, Carl Lawrence and his wife Molly of Oak Bluffs, and William Lawrence of South Berwick, Maine; and three stepchildren, Edward Krikorian III and his wife Billie of Florence, Ore., Lynne Watkins and her husband Walter, and Ann Shook and her husband David, all of California. She is also survived by four maternal cousins, six paternal second cousins, six step-grandchildren, and three step-great-grandchildren.
A visitation will be held on Friday, Feb. 19, from 6 pm to 8 pm in the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown Road, Oak Bluffs. A funeral Mass will be celebrated in St. Augustine’s Church, Franklin Street, Vineyard Haven, on Saturday, Feb. 20, at 11 am. Burial will follow in the Oak Grove Cemetery, Pacific Avenue, Oak Bluffs, with full military honors offered by the Veterans of Martha’s Vineyard. Donations in Shirley’s memory may be made to American Legion Post 257, P.O. Box 257, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568, or to Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, P.O. Box 1748, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.