SHELBY, Shirley Elizabeth October 8, 1936 – August 24, 2021 – passed away peacefully on August 24th, 2021. Beloved wife of the late William (Bill) Shelby and loving mother of Leslie (Bill) Palamar, Karen (Gary) Pearson and Bill Shelby. Proud Grandma of Regina (Mark), Shelby, Sara (Cieran), Audrey, Eric, Tyler (Caroline) and Tonya (Abdi). Dear daughter of the late Beatrice and Harry Demick, she is predeceased by all her siblings; Charles, Charlotte, David, Marie and Anna. She will be missed by many nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.
Born in Parry Sound, Ontario, Shirley left for Toronto where she studied music at the Royal Conservatory of Music. It was here that she met and fell in love with fellow student, Bill Shelby. Together they raised 3 children and created a home filled with classical music and the sound of the neighbourhood children taking piano lessons in the basement. Her children are grateful for a home that instilled in them a love of music, whether piano, singing or guitar, that continues to this day.
She travelled the globe, by air and sea, escorting groups, scouting hotels and vacationing when time permitted. When Bill suffered a stroke while on a family vacation, Shirley became aware of the obstacles disabled people faced when travelling. In the late 1970’s she opened the groundbreaking travel agency, Travel Helpers, specializing in travel services for people with disabilities. She was an advocate for and managed the travel needs for organizations like Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association, Canadian Amputee Association and the Canadian Blind Sports Association. A founding member of ParaSport Ontario, and founding member and voluntary President of the Ontario Blind Sport Association, Shirley was an inductee into the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame and the recipient of many awards including the King Clancy Award and the Ontario Sport Award. Her determined efforts helped to lay the solid foundation on which the Paralympic movement continues to build.
An active member of the Don Mills business community, Shirley was President of the Don Mills Business Association and broke the glass ceiling by becoming the first woman President of the Don Mills Rotary Club.
Shirley was renowned for her entertaining including her much anticipated annual Christmas Open House. Although there may be no photographic evidence of her ever dipping a toe into the pool herself, all were welcome to enjoy the pool and beautiful backyard and she loved nothing more than seeing friends, family and neighbourhood kids do just that. The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir was even known to have been poolside, enjoying her hospitality and singing into the wee hours.
Keeping with Shirley’s wishes, cremation is planned. A celebration of Shirley’s life will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers, and in recognition of Shirley’s extensive commitment to the cause, you are invited to make a donation to ParaSport Ontario or Ontario Blind Sports Association by clicking the Donation section, above or below.