Shirley Grace Mathis


image of Charles and Shirley Mathis

Charles and Shirley Mathis

Shirley Grace Mathis, 90, died in Seattle, at the home of one of her daughters, on October 15, 2023. She had spent the weekend, as she had wished, with family. She was born on September 18, 1933 in Cardston, Alberta, Canada to Edwin Ernst and Stella Maria Konrad. She grew up in southern Alberta and southeast British Columbia. She said she lived the best years of her life at a logging camp in Crowsnest Pass, high in the Canadian Rockies, where she walked three miles to a one-room school and had the freedom to fish, wade in streams, and wander over the hills with other children from the camp.

In 1947, her family moved to Cashmere, Washington, where she served as Girls State rep and, in 1951, graduated from high school. The next day, her family moved to Tacoma. Charles “Chuck” Mathis, whom she had met after he moved to the area from Arkansas, soon followed. They married in October of 1951 and settled in Spanaway where they raised five children. She said “mother” was her favorite name.

She had jobs in retail and customer service (her favorite job was at Paul’s Shoes in Spanaway). She was also active in the community organizations – often serving in leadership positions – including the Spanaway Fire Department Women’s Auxiliary, the Spanaway Historical Society, Spanaway Friends of the Library, and Celebrate Spanaway. She was a charter member of Spanaway Lutheran Church.

After her son Charlie died in 1983, she began participating in life story writing groups. Later, she taught these groups along with other writing classes. Her family is fortunate to have many stories she wrote about her childhood, and she enjoyed sharing her poetry and stories with friends.

Other creative activities included gardening and crafts. For many years she organized a holiday craft fair called Poinsettia Park. She was interested in getting to know new people and had the gift of friendship.

Chuck died in 2012, soon after their 60th anniversary. In 2015, Shirley moved to The Firs, an independent living community in Olympia where she wrote for the newsletter and organized Teatime and Stories, which became a very popular activity.

A stroke in 2019 left her unable to live alone. She moved in with her daughter Sandra, then to an adult family home. When the pandemic started, she moved to daughter Teresa’s home in Seattle, and then lived again with Sandra. For the past year and a half she lived in an adult family home in Seattle. She enjoyed time with family, watching dogs at the dog park, and the Garden Discovery Program (crafts!) for people with memory loss at Maude’s Garden.

She is survived by her children Teresa Mathis of Seattle, Karen Moline of Vancouver, Sandra Palmer of Maple Valley, and Brian Mathis (Ron) of Olympia, as well as grandchildren Kelsey Ryan (David), Andrew Palmer (Michele), and Alex Moline; great grandchildren Linnea and Peter Palmer, Chloe Ryan, and Eshin Moline; nieces Patricia Turner, Nesha Burton, Tracy Holt, and Donna Daniels; nephews Scott Turner, Ronnie Stokes, Todd Mathis, Tommy Tav Mathis; extended family; and many friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents; husband Chuck; a son, Charlie; and sisters Yvonne “Honey” Masterson and Kay “Babe” Turner.

Memorial contributions can be made to Maude’s Garden/Seattle Parks & Recreation Dementia Friendly Recreation program at Lifelong-Recreation-Donations  ( (select “dementia friendly programs”).

A memorial service will be held on Thursday, December 7 at 1:00 pm at Spanaway Lutheran Church.

5 Responses to “Shirley Grace Mathis”

  • Kari Einset says:

    Dear Teresa and family,
    This timeline of your mother’s life is so well written and heartfelt. Thank you for sharing her story. Condolences on her passing.
    Kari Einset

  • Charlene Haggard ( Houser ) says:

    Teresa,Brian,Karen and Sanrda. I am so sorry for your loss. Reflecting back on my childhood I see your mother. She was a big part of my life. Your mom was my moms best friend for years. She was a very loving and caring person now she is at rest. I am sure my mom and her are just up there crafting away. Once again I am terribly sorry for your loss.

  • Carol Bucholz says:

    I was more than blessed to be able to help Shirley by typing up many of her poems and short stories. I was organist at Spanaway Lutheran and still enjoy breakfast with many of the ladies from the church on Wednesday mornings. We were able to go down to Olympia and take Shirley to breakfast with us several times. Her bright smile, creativity and quick wit will be missed. Love, Carol Bucholz

  • Tracy Holt says:

    Aunt Shirley, you were such a huge part of my life. I will forever remember your smile, hugs and that giggle. I will miss you, rest peaceful Aunt Shirley, you will be forever in my heart.

  • Donald Bucsko says:

    Teresa,Karen,Sandra & Brian. My condolences on the passing of Shirley, I have lots of good memories of your parents, and you kids growing up. Rest in peace Shirley.

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