Virginia Alberta Thiel Shipley was born December 17, 1934, the only child of Virgil Albert Thiel and Nellie Elnora (Lynch) Thiel. She was born and raised on the farm in Kidder, Missouri, where her family had been living for three generations. As a child of the depression she was involved in the work of the farm from the time she was able. Her father often spoke with pride of her driving a stock truck on the Pennsylvania turnpike at age 15. Although never heard to complain, the workload and responsibilities of her formative years were doubtless influenced by her mother’s long struggle with multiple sclerosis. Her love, admiration and respect for her father were without limit.
She would sheepishly admit graduating first in her high school class (of three). It was about that time that she met the love of her life, Gene Shipley. Their courtship was limited as he entered the United States Navy, but they wrote virtually daily and she kept each of his letters for life. They were married June 28, 1953 in Lathrop, Missouri. She attended Christian (now Columbia) College in Columbia, Missouri, briefly, then joined the workforce as Gene attended veterinary school. She worked as a legal secretary, serving the needs of three lawyers with shorthand, carbon paper and manual typewriters. Their first son was born just over a month before her 20th birthday. Two more sons followed and, after brief employment related moves, they settled in Savannah, Missouri, where their children were raised and completed high school.
Ginny, as she was known to friends and family, was the stereotypical mother and housewife. Her house was spotless, despite raising three boys and a steady stream of dogs. She was essentially a short order cook for breakfast, preparing different hot breakfasts based upon each son’s desire, and made from scratch dinners nightly. Like minded neighborhood mothers regularly gathered for coffee in the mornings, with disapproving glances and nods for the poor soul who would consider serving a store bought pie crust.
As the boys left the nest Ginny returned to work outside the home as a legal secretary for a firm in St. Joseph. After divorcing in 1982 she accepted a job with the US Attorney’s Office in Kansas City. Following a brief stint with a large Kansas City firm, she accepted an employment offer from United States District Judge Howard Sachs in January, 1985. Never accepting the title Judicial Administrative Assistant, she simply referred to herself as “Judge Sachs’ secretary.” She proudly remained in his service until she suffered a career ending stroke in 2001.
She continued to live fiercely – some might say stubbornly – independently until declining health necessitated a move to assisted living in December of 2017. It is difficult to express the gratitude that she and her family feel for the amazing people at Oxford Grand at Shoal Creek. Though their task was surely not without its trying moments, she was treated with not only dignity and respect, but love and compassion, every day. With their tireless assistance she was able to overcome her frustration with losing independence, making the last two years of her life as pleasant and enjoyable as they possibly could have been.
Ginny passed away on December 11, 2019 surrounded by family and in the hearts and prayers of family and friends.
She is survived by her sons, Bill of Lander, Wyoming, Bob and his wife, Patty, who reside within yards of the original family homestead in Kidder, Missouri, and Mike and his wife, Susan, of Liberty, Missouri. She leaves a legacy of nine grandchildren, David Shipley, Rachel Fisk, Ben Shipley, Kasey Wixson, Kerrie Manson, Robby Shipley, Jacob Shipley, Mariah Shipley and Heather Shipley, with four great-grandchildren, and two on the way.
A family never had a more loving or nurturing mother and grandmother. We will all miss her more than we can express.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests contributions to NorthCare Hospice House, 2800 Clay Edwards Dr 2nd Floor, North Kansas City, MO 64116, or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Our Sincere Condolences
Bill, Bob and Mike,
A wonderful, heartwarming tribute to your Mom. I learned things about Ginny I had no idea. She was always kind to me and I was respectfully fond of her. I admire her strength and bravery and saddened by her passing. Sincere sympathy to the Shipley boys, your families and friends who also loved her.