Shirley Ann (Fox) Strack, 86, passed away Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, at her home in Gardner. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Dec. 9, at Bruce Funeral Home in Gardner. Memorial services will begin at 12:30 p.m. followed by internment at Gardner Cemetery.
Condolences may be left at www.brucefuneralhome.com. The family suggests memorials to the American Cancer Society or the American Heart Association.
Shirley was born in Le Roy, on Aug. 23, 1935, to the late “Jack” Virgil Maynard Fox and Elizabeth Catherine (Clark) Fox. The oldest of two daughters, she grew up in Iola where her father owned and operated a lumber business. She graduated from Iola High School in 1952 and attended Clarks Business School in Topeka. Shirley married her high school sweetheart, Gary Eugene Strack Sr., on Oct. 2, 1954. The couple was married for 40 years until Gary passed away on Aug. 12, 1995.
After marriage and Gary’s tour of duty with the U.S. Army, the couple moved to Shawnee, where Shirley worked for Farmers Insurance. The couple moved their family to Gardner in 1973.
Shirley remains an icon for several generations of Gardner-area students and their families. For 27 years she was athletic secretary and attendance clerk at Gardner-Edgerton High School. She was affectionately known and remembered as “High School Shirley,” as that was her cheery greeting when answering the school phone. She kept close tabs on literally hundreds of students over the years, unabashedly giving loving attention to many young adults who benefited from her acceptance and advice.
Shirley maintained close contact with Gardner school staff and students even after retirement, religiously attending her grandkids’ activities and sporting events. During those years, Shirley’s devotion to her mom, “Gram” Fox, was widely known. Together and thanks to Shirley’s unselfish efforts, Gram and Shirley were fixtures at junior high and high school football, volleyball, basketball and baseball games for nearly two decades.
A cancer survivor, Shirley for many years devoted herself to local Relay For Life, both in terms of collecting donations and taking part in the event itself. She glowed with pride in being able to join fellow survivors and their caregivers when joining in the kick-off walk around the Wheatridge or GEHS track.
Shirley was a longtime member of the Edgerton United Methodist Church and always lived her life based on positive faith and Divine inspiration. But it was her family that was always most cherished in Shirley’s heart. What even Shirley may not have realized, is her “family” extended beyond those she raised and nurtured as “Mom,” “Grandma,” “Grammie” or “G.” She will be remembered by many for her loving, caring ways and for a heart that saw the good in everything and everyone.
Survivors include: daughter Sharyl Hale and husband Steve Hale, Gardner; son Gary Strack Jr. and wife Janet, Gardner; daughter Debra Starling and husband Jim Starling, Paola; sister Phyllis Mattingly and husband Larry, Fleming Island, Fla.; brother-in-law David Strack and wife Annie, Gardner; seven grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.