Shelly's Story

Celebrating the Life of Shelly Shirk

Shelly's Story

Shelly was a passionately loving mother, partner, and friend. Anyone who had the priviledge of crossing her path knows how much she was willing to give to her people. She brought new life into the world as a profession, she was the person to call when life brought uncertainty and was a mentor to anyone willing to receive her insight.

But more than anything, she loved fearlessly and lived truly.


Shelly was so wholly loved by her entire family and everyone she called a friend. She went to great lengths to make sure everyone was included and to show her appreciation and fierce friendship to those who were important to her and her family.

She was an adaptive, protective, nurturing mother who would go great lengths for her children. She also welcomed many children, not her own, who were in need of a supportive and loving home environment. She did so with healthy conditions and the only intention of bettering the person being helped. 

Shelly wasn't afraid of conflict or saying how she felt.. She was loud and proud, and defended her family with all she had. She didn't tolerate disrespect towards herself or her children especially, and would do what needed to be done to stand up for those who couldn't or wouldn't stand up for themselves. She was strong and opinionated, and those close to her knew this as one of her best qualities.

She was the loudest parent at sporting events and threw the best house parties, for every occasion.

She loved entertaining and creating a space where all are welcome. She knew all of her kids' friends' names and became the ultimate "soccer mom"

to her children from their after-school events, recitals to sleepovers.

Though she was married and divorced twice, she maintained positive, healthy relationships with her exes and continued to support their health and wellbeing.


Shelly earned  her Registered Nurse License in 1993 and was an exceptionally empathetic and passionate OB-GYN (obstetrics gynocology) nurse for over 25 years. She was one of the first people to hold a human being as they came into the world and helped new parents navigate the terriftying world of parenthood. 

She worked long, exhausting shifts, and worked nights for many years. Nonetheless, she always returned home with a smile, regardless of the stress and trauma of the day.

She was very close with the women she worked with and many of them became her "work family." Co-workers were always at family events amd holidays. Everyone knew the amazing worker, but more importantly friend, Shelly was!

She was the first person to respond in an emergency and would snap into "nurse-mode" the instant a crisis demanded it. She thrived on chaos and mahem in the workplace because it allowed her to fulfill her role as a leader and gave others a plan of action. She was the one you wanted by your side in case things got unsteady. She was quick-thinking and always had a game plan, especially when no one else did.

She was a gentle, comforting voice of reason to anyone who needed it, whether they knew it or not. She encouraged others to learn and grow themselves on a daily basis.

She was nominated for and received counntless awards for "Good Catch" when she prevented a near-mistake, and for the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.

Some examples are on the side. (Click for a larger image.) 

Shelly was passionate about her career and made a difference in countless lives. She was an exceptional nurse and a natural leader who will forever remind others to spread love wherever life takes you. 

Together, Shelly and Howard were able to explore New Orleans, Memphis, Florida and Key West, Northern and Southern California, New Mexico, as well as Spain, France, and Cozumel!

Although she had many more destinations on her to-do list, Shelly passed away in the beautiful teal blue waters of Bonaire, 50 miles off the coast of Venezuela, doing what she loved, with the person she loved.

To see Shelly and Howard's travel adventures, click HERE!


Shelly loved trying new things and traveling to places she had never been before. From hikin' and bikin', to motorcycle-ridin', to scuba divin', Shelly was never one to shy away from adventure. Shelly prioritized her health and was constantly ways to grow spiritually, physically and mentally.

Shelly found her last love 7 years ago and proposed to Howard Barlow September 28, 2021 at a Phil and Friends show at Planet Bluegrass in Lyons. Together, they were able to totally renovate their home top-to-bottom. From knocking out walls to exotic custom granite countertops, they spared no detail. As an avid "hostess with the mostest", they enjoyed entertaining the many friends and family welcomed into their home, with new members each time!