Shirley Ann read books sitting on the side of the house. That was her dreaming place. She knew she didn’t want to keep cleaning houses and hotel rooms. She wanted something different and she knew she’d need school to get there.
In the 40’s and 50’s Cisco taught Negro children up to the 5th grade. So she left her mother and family to go to relatives who lived in places where Negros could go to school. What we take for granted she had to fight for. She moved to one place to finish Elementary; another to get through Junior High; and another place to complete High School. She finished with all A’s but they gave the Valedictorian award to someone who hadn’t just moved there.
After High School, Shirley Ann went home. That was the year Cisco Junior College integrated! That year she said to herself, “I’m going to show these people that blacks can do as well as they can!”. At the end of two years at Cisco Junior College, Shirley Ann was proclaimed the Valedictorian of her class.
Now what? Shirley Ann thought she’d like to study Chemistry but didn’t feel strong enough in Math. What about Business - typing and shorthand. Women could make a pretty good living with that. Or why not teach? She had proven she was good in education. She tried Texas Southern but they wouldn’t give her all of the credits she’d earned.
At North Texas University she experienced a tornado at a drive-in and met a tornado named James Gayle,“Mexico”, her future husband. They shared in common that they wanted more. Both of their mothers worked as Maids. Her father worked in the railroad industry and his in trucking but neither family had the means to help them go to college. They made it through, married, and had a daughter, Denise. He went into the Air Force, she taught.
Their journey led the small family to Los Angeles, CA. They wanted an apartment on the west side of Los Angeles in a beautiful little city but racism prevented them. So they bought a house there instead! In 1968 Shirley had another daughter, Carol, at Cedars Sinai Hospital, the best in Los Angeles. By that time Shirley was teaching Business in Bishop Conati High School after working as a secretary at UCLA.
In 1977 Shirley and her family moved to beautiful Cerritos, CA, still in Los Angeles County but at the edge of Orange County. She took over the pool house from the kids and made it her sewing center. Sewing reminded Shirley of her mother and family in Texas, and gave her peace.
Before she left there she would turn sewing into a business.
While in Cerritos, her youngest received Christ. She prayed in her sister who seemed to be more of a Holy Roller than a Baptist! And Shirley recommitted to Christ. She became a mother of her church and gave greatly of her faith, time, and money. At that time Shirley was so pleased to see her husband Mexico become a Christian.
She and Mexico retired to sunny Arizona and they continued in the church there. After his passing she developed Alzheimers. But Shirley became sweeter with age. She lived in a world where her husband was with her in past and present.
On her homegoing day we noticed she had a strange congestion to her breathing and she wouldn’t wake up. At the hospital the doctor made it clear, Shirley was going home, and in two hours! Always having been impatient, those family members who could come had to hurry. When everyone coming was present, Shirley took three breaths and was gone. It was as if she waited just long enough for them to get there. Shirley Ann (Adams) Gayle went home on November 26th, 2022.
She was preceded by her husband James Gayle, grandmother, Alma Sirles
Her mother Sally Jo Shelton and Howard Shelton
Her sister Alma Shelton and brother Troy Shelton
She leaves sisters Harriett Shelton Collins and Janet Renee Shelton
Daughters Harriett Denise Gayle and Carol Dawn Gayle
Grandchildren Aundreea, Autumn, Camille, and Kenneth with his wife Kristin
Great Grandchildren Kaden and Kamaya
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