Bill was born in Snow Hill, North Carolina, on September 29, 1942. He was the son of The Rev. Mr. Hubert Arnold Shirley and Frances Elizabeth O’Steen Shirley. He is survived by two married children and three grand-children (all of whom live in Grand Junction, Colorado): David Shirley (wife, Corrina, and two daughters, Kate and Ellie Shirley) and Dena Shirley (one son, Tyler Brafford).
Bill is also survived by three siblings: Barbara (Shirley) James, (husband, Bane James) from Franklin Springs, Georgia; Carolyn (Shirley) Fields, (husband, Gary Fields) from Royston, Georgia; and Kenneth Arnold Shirley (wife, Beverly Berry Shirley) from Warner Robins, Georgia. Nephews and nieces include: Brian (and April) James, Beth (and Wesley) Wansley, John Wesley Fields, Matt (and Jessica) Shirley, Kristen (and Aaron) Fowler, plus three grand-nieces (twins Adelaide and Penny Shirley, also Ella Reed) and three grand-nephews (Evan James, John Clayton Reed, and Luke Fowler).
Always interested in education, Bill graduated from Goldsboro High School in Goldsboro, North Carolina, on June 3, 1960. He received a Junior College degree from Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, Georgia on May 27, 1962 and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Guilford College in Guilford, North Carolina on June 1, 1964. Bill earned a Master of Teaching degree from Central State College in Edmond, Oklahoma on July 24, 1966 and a Master of Arts degree in Cross-Cultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California on June 8, 1985. Bill also completed the Leadership Program for Assistant Principals on April 30, 2004; this was the Principals’ Executive Program at the Center for School Leadership Development, University of North Carolina. Over the years Bill served as an extraordinary teacher, administrative assistant or principal of both public and private schools in five states: North Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas and California.
Basketball was always a special joy, both as a player in high school and college, as well as serving many years as a college coach or assistant coach. Bill was the first assistant basketball coach at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma when the institution began its basketball program. Other colleges or universities where he served include: Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, Georgia; Southwestern Christian University in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Corpus Christi University in Corpus Christi, Texas and Pan-American University in McAllen, Texas.
Music was also an integral part of Bill’s life. He was an incredible tenor soloist, often singing for churches, choirs, weddings, and other special events. During high school years, he sang a lead role in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Mikkaido,” as well as special parts in the “Amahl and the Night Visitors” Christmas production. During one summer Bill also participated in the musical production of “The Lost Colony” at Manteo, North Carolina. All of us, as family and friends, especially loved hearing him sing “O Holy Night,” “His Eye Is On The Sparrow,” and “How Great Thou Art.”
Bill’s love for God was the central focus of his life. He favorite Bible verse was Proverbs 3:5 (KJV): “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding;” This love was always evident in the way he loved, served and cared for other people wherever he was…a circle of friends that reached literally around the world. The theme song for his live became “The Love of God,” a beautiful song written by F.M. Lehman and arranged by Claudia Lehman Mayo.
Bill’s funeral service will be held on February 22, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. The location is Pruitt Funeral Home Chapel in Royston, Georgia. The eulogy will be given by the Rev. Mr. Matt Shirley and Family Reflections by Barbara James. Special music will be provided by Beth Wansley, Stan Oliver (Stan is sick and can't be present), and Arlette Revells. Brian James will conduct the Interment service at the Franklin Springs Cemetery in Franklin Springs, Georgia. Pallbearers are: Arlon Beadles, Evan James, Jerry Boone, Tom Wilson, Tom Hewson, and Harrell Queen.
[Editor's Comment: It was privilege to meet and work with Bill Shirley when I became president of Southwestern College (now Southwestern Christian University), in Oklahoma City. Bill was our athletic director and one of our coaches. He was a prince of a man and was a natural born teacher. He taught far more than the basics of basketball. He taught young men the principles of life and most of all living a life for Christ. He was a loyal member of our faculty. You could always count on Bill to do his work with excellence. In recent years I have requested prayer for Bill's healing in Hugh's News. I stand and salute Bill Shirley as a great American, an outstanding coach and teacher, administrator, and Christian friend. May the memory of this good man who was full of faith and the Holy Spirit inspire us all to give our very best in our service and worship of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To the family, "I commend you to God and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified" (Acts 20:32, KJV).