"When I heard about the home-going of Bill Shirley, my mind went all the way back to 1960 at Emmanuel College. His sister, Barbara (James), was already there, and we heard quite a few great things about Bill even before he came to school. When we met, I instantly liked him. Like a number of us, he was a Pentecostal Holiness preacher's kid, loved to sing, and was a talented athlete. Everybody loved Bill; he was just that kind of person--multi-talented, friendly, sincere, faithful, loyal, and unassuming.
One memory of him in class stands out. He had a project in biology to turn in to Dr. Fleming, so several of us stayed up late the night before in the kitchen of the dining hall and helped him boil a pigeon, remove the bones, and construct a pigeon skeleton to turn in that morning. I actually think he made a pretty good grade on it.
We traveled together that year in the Emmanuel College Quartet, and I realized what a solid Christian he was. He had the best, well trained voice I had ever heard but never projected any pride about it. Bill could sing anything. He sang for our wedding, also, in August of 1962.
"Bill was a great teacher and communicator and served for a time on the Emmanuel College faculty and coaching staff. The students loved him, too. He had a great sense of humor and could tell a story. I loved his account of going to Harlem in New York City to recruit a basketball player. The boy was from a Christian family, and, since Bill was there on a weekend, they invited him to go to church with them that Sunday morning. The African American church was very Pentecostal, and, during a prayer time, Bill found himself being singled out as the pastor pointed directly to him to come forward for special prayer. (He wasn't hard to spot in the crowd.) The pastor's custom was to hit the person on the head as he prayed, and many of the people being prayed for would be "slain in the Spirit" immediately when they were hit. As Bill related with great animation, the pastor hit him one time and he didn't move, so he hit him a second time with the same lack of results. By then, according to Bill, his head was really hurting, but the pastor didn't quit. He hit Bill on the head one more time, and, making a quick decision, Bill shouted "Hallelujah," threw up his hands, and quickly fell backwards to the floor. I don't remember if he was successful in recruiting the player, but he tried his best!
"Bill had a winsome personality, loved the Lord, and would do anything for anybody. He never tried to project himself but was always ready to serve. He was a good basketball player and coach as well, and delighted in working with students to help them improve their skills. We love the Shirley family and offer our prayers to Barbara, Carolyn, and Ken as they say goodbye to an exemplary brother. It's really hard to believe he is gone, but we look forward to joining him in the heavenly choir some day."