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Shirley Ann Townsend


Last updated 11/30/2018 at 7:02am

Shirley Ann Townsend passed away October 3, 2018. This is her story:

It all started on August 27, 1943 in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. Except for some dirt floors and chickens in the yard, my parents, Ralph and Hazel Willene McKinney Crider, had very little. (Mother chose the lesser of two evils in deciding to go by “Willene.”) Since my main attributes were bullheadedness, eating pill bugs and hypnotizing the chickens, I think my parents decided that the one-child rule was enough.

On to St. Louis and then the Los Feliz area of LA. Only to get rid of me, John Marshall HS made me graduate. Along the way, my parents divorced, but my Dad remarried the greatest step-mom one could wish for who brought two younger brothers I never had. Viola (Vi) became my best friend (and still is) and the boys, Mike and Don Wessels, were tolerable at times, but at least I now had someone to tease, threaten and practice witchcraft on. We eventually matured, became good friends and now they tolerate me. We all nested in West Covina.

It was time to move out, raise my daughter and buy a home in Glendora. Then spent about 10 years in Fullerton until my slice of heaven (more on that later) came along in 1981. We bought a country ranch home in Yorba Linda and made it ours…what a fantastic time we had. In 2000, we found a similar remodeling challenge in Bonsall and I went to work on it…what fun and still at it until God interrupted me.

I didn’t want to die. And I’m quite sure I’m not happy about it, but my body didn’t co-operate, and my mom called. I have too much to do yet. Pester my husband. Be a pain in the ass to my children. Redecorate. Then redecorate again…and quite possibly, again. Shop. Return. Shop some more. Return some more (this could take a while). And always thinking.

I’d like to go to a few of my favorite places again: Nordstrom…Home Goods…our Park Place house…Dana Point…Griffith Park…Ireland…my perch (the purple barstool at the corner, not the others)…to a party (if I’m hosting) with all of my family and friends there…be home with no one there. Spend time with the people I love. And do things that need doing: Clean the counters with my trusty sponge. Read. Visit the cattery – gotta get my cat fix. In-N-Out burger – YUM. Finish Christmas shopping and wrap wrap wrap!

I do all things with great passion. Love. Hate. Fight. Shop. Battle cancer. If you were to ask me, I’m not a nice person, but if you need something, ask. I’ll say yes. Be my friend or don’t be my friend, but don’t do both…more than likely I want to be your friend.

I didn’t go to college…didn’t have time. I’m smart, savvy, love to be in control, have a sarcastic sense of humor and always worked hard – the credit union, insurance was insurance that stuck. I’m a self-made woman. Had a prosperous business (Santa Anita Insurance Agency). Clients I loved, some not, but in either case, if not for them, I wouldn’t have been as successful. I didn’t do it alone and have many to thank for the opportunity, but make no mistake, I did it. Then I retire, things changed…I must have really loved that job!

It’s funny…I‘m not a social person, but yet I’m good at it. I have a way with people. I’m funny and one helluva smartass. But, make no mistake, you’ll know where you stand with me. And what was with my cars? I rolled an Austin Healy on the 210 freeway before it was completed…made the front page of the LA Times. Drove an old Ford with a sticky front seat that entertained my daughter a lot! Moved on to a blue Pinto, a green Gremlin, a white Oldsmobile named Lulu – she was a fav, Big Red, and the cutest little white Mercedes you ever saw – even got a shiny new gas cap from my man for it one Christmas.

I’ve been known by many names…Shirley, Shirley Ann, Mom, Ma, Sug, SAT, Grandma, Gma, GGM, Babe, Bubbles and on occasion, another “B” word, but my favorite is Empress.

I’ve been married twice in my life – they didn’t work out. But then I entered into a slice of heaven for 37+ years. A true love match. Howard, Howie, Babe, Humble. He answers to many things – some not so pretty over the years, but he always answered. He accepted me for who I am and let me be who I am. He never tried to rein me in. He loved me and let me be the wild, crazy, confident, yet insecure woman that I am. I owe him much and still don’t feel worthy of his love.

I had one child, Cherie, from one of those marriages and was blessed with two more, Dave and Jana, that arrived with my slice of heaven. They’ve given me grandchildren: Samantha, Morgan, Emily, Austin, Ryan and Payton. And who would have thought…great-grandchildren: Aaron and Dawson. Howard and I always get a “warm fuzzy” watching our flock love and interact with each other…what a great and real family.

Who knew where I’d end up as I traveled along this rather bumpy road of life…but I ended up right where I was supposed to be and would have liked to have stayed down here a bit longer.

Remember – I’ll be watching and thinking.

The Empress

The Cast

Matriarch & Empress: Shirley Ann Townsend

Patriarch: Howard Townsend

Step-Mom: Viola Turner

Children: Cherie Towers

Jana Jo Bommarito

David Townsend

Grandchildren: Samantha Towers

Morgan Townsend

Emily Jo Bommarito

Austin (Oz) Townsend

Ryan Bommarito

Payton Townsend

Great-Grandchildren: Aaron Crigler Towers

Dawson Pierce

Step-Brothers: Donald Wessels

Michael Wessels


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