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Shirley (Ledtke) Ouellette

December 30, 1928 January 14, 2021
Shirley (Ledtke) Ouellette
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Obituary for Shirley (Ledtke) Ouellette

A homespun, devout Christian who passionately believed that God is love, Shirley Ouellette of Ludlow, Mass. died peacefully on January 14 shortly after she celebrated her 92nd birthday on December 30 and three years after her husband Philip “Flip” Ouellette passed away on December 14, 2017. She was born in Springfield in 1928. Her father, Richard Ledtke, worked for the Springfield Fire Department and her mother Sylvia (née Baker) was a homemaker. Shirley and her older sister Dorothy lived with their parents in a grand homemade house in the rural Sixteen Acres neighborhood which at the time was undeveloped country land. Because of the economic ravages at the time of her youth, the Ledtke family was forced to move to an apartment on Sumner Avenue near Forest Park in Springfield. She said she could hear the lions roar in the mornings when they were being fed.
Shirley graduated from Commerce High School in 1945 and worked at American Telephone & Telegraph that eventually developed into AT&T. She and Flip were married on May 21, 1949.
When Flip built the 732 Fuller Street house in the early ‘50s, Shirley felt like she was returning to her first home in the country. She roamed in the woods on the old unpaved farming roads with her kids to visit the tall pine grove, the pastures, the wild apple trees and even ventured onto the trail through the swamps to visit Lost Pond (also known as Oregon). She introduced her kids to the swinging oak tree and taught them how to find wild winterberries. She developed a special yodel-like call to corral the kids for their return home from the woods or to make it known that she was lost. She continued into her eighties to walk regularly there even when it had been developed for housing. A lover of the outdoors, Shirley downhill skied gracefully into her eighties at such areas as Chickley Alps, Berkshire East when it was named Thunder Mountain, Blandford and Mount Tom.
Even as she was fully committed to her kids and husband, Shirley pursued her lifelong passion of painting, attending night art classes at the Springfield Art Museum and other studios, beginning in the late ‘50s and continuing into her eighties. While her expertise as an artist was painting with watercolors many countryside landscapes and the seashore, she also explored pastels. She actively exhibited her works locally, garnering her a number of blue ribbon prizes. Shirley also volunteered to be a docent at the museum when school groups came to visit.
To satisfy her husband’s sweet tooth, Shirley frequently baked cakes, blonde brownies and cookies that were served as dessert for every evening meal. To help partially finance her children’s higher educations, she began working a part-time job at Steiger’s department store in the lingerie department at Springfield Plaza followed by fulltime secretarial positions at Ludlow High School and later at Mass Mutual.
Shirley was active at her church, the historic First Church on Center Street (part of the United Church of Christ denomination) where she served as a deacon and participated in organizing the church fairs and other events.
For the last few years of her life, Shirley enjoyed watching sports on the television. But the outdoors also called. Aided by a wonderful team of caregivers, she took walks around the yard and picked flowers.
Shirley will be remembered most by her ready smiles, her gentle sweetness and loving hospitality. She is survived by her devoted children and their spouses: David (wife Jennella Porter) in East Freetown, Mass.; Danny (wife Evantheia Schibsted) on Shelter Island, New York; daughter Karen Chenier (husband Larry Chenier) in Marstons Mills, Cape Cod; and sons Peter (wife Cynthia Quinn) in Granby and Phil aka Scoot (wife Robin Swennes) in Arundel, Maine. Shirley is also survived by grandchildren Todd Ouellette (wife Kara), Jamie Ouellette, Jeff Ouellette, Alexis Ouellette and Ben Chenier as well as great grandchildren Liam and Cade (Todd and Kara’s sons) and Olivia (Jeff’s daughter) as well as by her niece Debbie Moore. She is predeceased by her parents, sister (Dorothy Nelson), husband (Flip Ouellette) and grandson (Ryan Ouellette).
Given covid-19 restrictions, there will no wake, funeral or memorial service. Shirley will be buried at Island Pond Cemetery in Ludlow in a lot with a gravestone next to her husband, with the First Church pastor presiding.

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Events

Event Information

Services are private.

Cemetery Details

Location

Island Pond Cemetery Final Resting Place

499 Center Street
Ludlow, Ma 01056

499 Center Street Ludlow 01056 Ma
United States
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