Shirley Mabel Wesslen, born September 17, 1943, passed away from multiple organ failure in the Red Deer, AB hospital on September 2, 2021. She was preceded in death by her parents Edward and Doris Wesslen of Blackfalds, AB.
Born in Lacombe, Shirley was educated, lived and worked her entire life in the province of Alberta. With an outgoing personality and being a ‘natural’ at socializing, Shirley loved gatherings or any opportunity to connect with people. She spent her youth surrounded by a large, extended family (the Hueppelsheusers and Hedemarks), living on the farm west of Blackfalds, and making fond memories with cousins and school friends. Her young life was a social whirlwind of constant activity as Shirley joined the Teen Club and 4-H, went to school dances, and competed in curling events. She graduated from Lacombe High in 1961 then attended secretarial school in Red Deer prior to starting her first full-time job at a bank.
In 1962 Shirley met and married her first husband, Stuart Morison. She was welcomed into the rural community of Airdrie and they raised three children there. Her open and genuine interest in people, plus her willingness to pitch in and help whenever needed, led her to make many life-long friends in the area. She worked passionately on the family farm while operating equipment, cooking, baking, gardening, keeping books or running auctions with Stuart. She also played enthusiastically, and competitively, with her new friends whether at cards, or racing snowmobiles, taking part in hockey games, rodeos, and house parties. Shirley was always eager to join in the fun.
Following her divorce from Stuart, Shirley continued to live at Airdrie while she worked as a bookkeeper in Crossfield for the Shell Bulk Fuel station. In 1977 She moved back to her childhood home and family in Blackfalds. She built a new house next to her parents, doing a lot of the building and finishing herself that year. Shirley then set-out on a new career path, using her business and secretarial skills first for the County of Lacombe, then Hannah Seeds, and later for the Advani, Rose, Cruickshank law firm.
In 1987 Shirley remarried and took up her second husband’s passion for chuck-wagon racing, travelling the WPCA circuit in the summer months and making even more friends on her trips from town to town. Following a second divorce, she never remarried but instead continued to pursue more of her life’s passions and hobbies.
Shirley always loved animals, particularly horses, dogs, and cats. She built a breeding business called Legacy Walkers where she raised natural gait, Tennessee Walking horses for over 25 years and winning several ribbons for breed quality. She was a member of the Alberta Walking Horse Association and acted as the Association’s Secretary for many years.
Shirley was a strong-willed and capable woman, skilled with her hands and determined to succeed at anything she put her mind to. She proved repeatedly that she only needed to try her hand at something, and find it interesting enough to stick with it, to master a new skill. She could pull a foal, doctor her own horse or stitch a wound, make an original pattern and sew herself a dress, pick up an oil palette and paint a picture, then pick up a sash brush and paint her house. She grew lush, organic gardens before it was fashionable. She picked, preserved, and canned volumes of berries and jams, pickles and fruit every year. Shirley could whip together a roast beef dinner on a moment’s notice for guests or bake a table of sweets that would rival any bakery. She brewed home-style root-beer in her 20’s and took up wine-making in her 50’s.
In recent years as Shirley’s health and mobility declined she became more of a homebody, not wanting to stray too far away from her farm. Shirley adopted and fed the local barn cats who appeared at her door in increasing numbers. It was a mutual love affair. Always keen to make a connection, Shirley stayed in touch with friends and family daily by phone, eager to exchange news or share a tidbit of something new that she had learned.
Shirley’s passing was quick and peaceful. She left this life as she lived it, in her own way, on her own terms. She is lovingly remembered as a Sister, Mother, Grandmother, Aunt, Cousin, and Friend.
Shirley is survived by her brother Larry (Lorraine) Wesslen of Calgary, their children Craig Wesslen and Connie Wesslen, their grandchildren, and great-grandchildren; Kim (Bill) Rose of Lacombe, Dean Morison of Stoughton, SK and son Dustin Morison of Airdrie, Anne (Manuel) Macias of Calgary, Anne’s daughter’s Sabrina and Tavia Chehade of Calgary, Manuel’s children Marina and David Macias of Calgary.
Shirley will be interred next to her parents in the Aspelund Cemetery west of Blackfalds.
A funeral service to honor Shirley will be held at Wilson’s Funeral Chapel, 6120 Hwy 2A Lacombe on Friday, September 17, 2021 at 11:00 a.m., with public viewing taking place one hour prior. Following the service the family will meet guests during a luncheon then proceed to a family graveside service at 2:30 p.m.
The eulogy and a video of the funeral service can be viewed after September 17th at www.wilsonsfuneralchapel.ca
Memorial donations can be made to any charity of your choice. Given Shirley’s fondness for animals please consider giving to the Central Alberta Humane Society.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Shirley Mabel Wesslen, please visit our floral store.