Shirley Jean Keefer was born February 15, 1933, in Whittier, California, to Steve Farmer, from Pea Ridge, Arkansas, and Marjory (Horner) Farmer, from Alberta, Canada. Shirley was raised in the house that Marjorys family bought when arriving from Canada. Growing up, Shirleys favorite cat was Imogene. Later, the family acquired a cocker spaniel named Butch. From the age of three, Shirley would take herself to the Brethren Church where her aunt and uncle attended. Her cousin, Shirley Marie, was a good friend. At the age of twelve, Shirleys only sibling, Richard Farmer, was born. Shirley began her education at Lincoln Elementary, and graduated from Whittier High in 1951. While at Whittier High, she participated in drill team with her good friend and future matron of honor, Barbara Ousley; excelled on the tennis team, becoming womens doubles team champion; and studied bookkeeping, which served her well later in life.
Shirley became actively involved in 1956 in a philanthropic womens organization called Beta Sigma Phi, which raises funds to fight cystic fibrosis. She served multiple terms as chapter president, and also served a term as president over the council of the Whittier-area chapters. In later years, she was inactive, though a member-at-large. Prior to this, following graduation from high school, Shirley began working as a bookkeeper at K.D. Miller Electric, where, shortly thereafter, she met her future husband and lifelong partner, Bruce Keefer. Shirley initiated the relationship by asking Bruce to the movies. He responded saying that he would have to think about it. Things got better after that, and he soon adopted her fathers pet name for her, calling her Sug (short for sugar). At one point, he surprised her by painting her Metropolitan automobile pink (from her favorite color, blue) and placing the decal "Lil Sug" on it while she was with friends in Hawaii.
On January 29, 1960, at the young age of 26, after dating more than seven years, Shirley was married to Bruce at Plymouth Congregational Church in Whittier. Writing in her wedding book, Shirley described Bruce as a cute, nice, clean-cut boy; something she always liked in a person. Notable gifts for the wedding ceremony were her great grandmother's wedding ring given to her by her great-aunt in England and an English half-penny for her shoe.
Following their honeymoon in Florida, they both returned to work at K.D. Miller, eventually purchasing the home they lived in together for almost 59 years. Early in their marriage, Bruce and Shirley continued the practice previously shared with her parents -- trailer camping with the Whittier Ramblers trailer club.
After several years of marriage, their only child, Cynthia, was born. She would become their pride and joy. During those years of raising Cynthia, Shirley was periodically involved in serving the blind through arts and crafts with her mother at the Whittier Blind Center, working periodically at K.D. Miller and engaging in numerous hobbies such as gardening, golfing, tole painting and collecting dolls and miniatures.
While Cynthia was in high school, Bruce and Shirley purchased K.D. Miller. Within a matter of years, Shirley became the sole owner of the business, and by the second year of her sole ownership, K.D. Miller was the second largest woman-owned business in California based on revenue.
As the business expanded, so did the size of their trailers, soon becoming motor homes. They began camping with the Whittier Elks, as well as taking their own extended trips to Canada, Alaska, New England and Newfoundland. Other travels without motor home included trips to England, the Panama Canal, the Bahamas and Hawaii.
In 1998, Shirley sold K.D. Miller and retired five years after Bruce had retired. That same year, following retirement, Shirley became involved planning her daughters wedding to Mark Farris, which was held at the same church in which Shirley and Bruce were married thirty-eight years earlier.
In 2010, Shirley suffered cranial bleeding requiring a craniotomy, resulting in neurological damage causing aphasia. As a result, Shirley required
24-hour care, which was faithfully provided by Bruce for almost ten years. Just prior to this circumstance, Mysti, a red miniature poodle, had come into her life and provided her comfort and laughter over the years that followed.
After a fall around Christmas 2019, Shirleys health declined rapidly resulting in several hospitalizations and finally hospice care. Shirley died on Monday, January 20, 2020, surrounded by Bruce, Cynthia, Mark and Shirleys additional caregiver, Maria. Shirley was preceded in death by her parents, Steve and Marjory Farmer. Surviving family members include her husband of 59 years, Bruce Keefer; daughter, Cynthia Farris (and husband, Mark); brother, Richard Farmer (and wife, Janet).
Charitable contributions, in lieu of flowers, can be made to:
Whittier Elks Lodge No. 1258
13620 Whittier Blvd.
Whittier, CA 90605
Make checks payable to Whittier Elks Lodge No. 1258. Memo: Shirley Keefer Major Projects
The Heights Inn Serene Senior Care 9937 Emerado Drive
Whittier, CA 90603
Make checks payable to Serene Senior Care. Memo: Shirley Keefer