Shirley J. Drew



Shirley Jean Drew of Indianapolis, died on July 12, 2017, in Indianapolis, Indiana, after a period of physical decline. A Memorial Service and Celebration of Life will be held on:

Sunday, September 3, 2017,
1:00 PM to 3:00 PM, Eastern Standard Time
Flanner Buchanan Funeral Home
10722 E. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46229
(317) 899-7115

Shirley is survived by Robert A. Drew (her husband of nearly 65 years); Donald Baechler (brother); Rad A. Drew (son) and wife, Nancy Lee; Becky Drew McColley (daughter) and husband Joe McColley; Colleen Drew Couper (daughter); and Ruth Drew Presutti (daughter).

Shirley graduated from Joliet Township High School in Joliet, Illinois, began serving as a volunteer Candy Striper at age 15, and completed her nurse’s training at Henrotin Hospital in Chicago in 1951. She devoted the next 60+ years of her life nursing, often providing care to women with prenatal and obstetric health needs.

Shirley and Bob were married in December 1952, and Shirley followed Bob to Fairbanks, Alaska, where he was stationed at Ladd Airforce base during the Korean War. She worked at the hospital in Fairbanks, often walking three miles to work in sub-zero temperatures. She wore a traditional native Alaskan parka and wolf fur mittens to keep her warm on those cold walks to work!

After leaving Fairbanks, Shirley worked at hospitals in Dyer, Indiana, and Terre Haute, Indiana, before settling in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, where she worked for many years at Dearborn County Hospital. While at Dearborn County, Shirley was an obstetrics nurse, helping expecting mothers with prenatal care and deliveries.

During her years at Dearborn County she worked to establish one of the first Home Health Care nursing practices to serve six rural Indiana counties. She drove country roads throughout the southeastern corner of Indiana, bringing health care to many who couldn’t travel to the nearest hospitals.

Shirley and Bob moved to Zanesville, Ohio, in 1979. Shirley continued her nursing career in that region by establishing the first-of-its-kind prenatal program for indigent women in the area. The program was celebrated as highly successful, prompting a documentary film that was used to educate others and replicate similar programs to serve women around the world.

During her years in Indianapolis and Zanesville, to address problems of sexually transmitted disease and teen pregnancy, she worked with local high schools providing sex education to young people.

In 1989, Bob and Shirley settled in Indianapolis where Shirley continued her nursing career with indigent women at what was then Wishard Hospital (now Eskenazi Health). She worked to establish a women’s health program like the one in Zanesville, with an added component to address the prenatal needs of women with drug use and addiction problems during pregnancy. She left Wishard around 1994, and continued her service providing home health care and training for nurses in Indianapolis.

After retiring in 1996, Shirley continued to serve through her church, Old Bethel United Methodist, at 7995 E 21st Street in Indianapolis. Shirley and Bob made three church-sponsored mission trips to Reynosa, Mexico, where Shirley provided nursing services and health care to local people. She was a trained participant in the Stephen Ministry program, and participated in Ruth’s Circle, a church-sponsored group that offers prayer and spiritual comfort to home-bound church members. For several years, she volunteered at the Old Bethel and Partners Food Pantry at 8032 E. 21st Street, directly across from Old Bethel United Methodist Church, where she took blood pressures for those who needed this medical service. She also enjoyed working with children one-on-one through the Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring Program helping kids improve and enjoy reading.

She was an avid reader who appreciated many genres, but especially enjoyed reading history and historical fiction. She loved “antiquing” with Bob, visiting antique shops and yard sales everywhere. Shirley amassed an enviable collection of antique dolls, and was a skilled quilter, making quilts for her grandchildren and for her enjoyment. She was a member and one-time-president of the Fall Creek Questers, a local chapter of a national study club, formed in 1944, which encourages the appreciation of antiques and their collection, and the preservation of historical landmarks.

For those who knew Shirley, you might remember her as one of the kindest, most loving, nonjudgmental and forgiving people you’ve ever known. She accepted everyone without reservation, and she was strong physically, mentally, and emotionally. She lived with arthritis pain her entire adult life, surviving replacement of both knees and both hips, one of which didn't heal correctly and had to be redone. She lived with a zest for life and genuinely cared for the people she encountered. She especially relished spending time with her six grandchildren.

In Memory of Shirley Drew

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Shirley to Fall Creek Questers. Checks should be made out to Fall Creek Questers and mailed to:

Fall Creek Questers
2721A Marquette Manor West Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46268

For those who would like to make their donations electronically please use the PayPal button provided below.

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