She was the third child born to John Campbell McCoy and Ethel Pearl Mountjoy McCoy on August 19, 1924, in Kalispell, Montana. She grew up in the Lonepine area of the Little Bitterroot Valley where her parents had homesteaded. Her entire early education was at the Lonepine School where she graduated in 1943. From there she proceeded to University of Washington and pursued a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing. During this time, the last two years of World War 2, she also worked at Boeing, building B29 Bombers and also played basketball for the company team despite having terrible feet. She graduated from university in 1947.
While working as Head Nurse and teaching at Central Washington College of Education, she met her only love, George Kontos, Jr. They were married in the Presbyterian Church at Lonepine on the 20th of March, 1950. She continued to work while George finished his college education. Their union eventually resulted in children with Amy Lynn born in 1952, John William in 1954, Gerald Alan in 1956, and Gregory Lee in 1958. Having decided that with children at home, she would become a stay at home mother and of course she threw herself headlong into the raising of their offspring. This she did with delight and quickly was involved in Brownies and Cub Scouts, often as Den Mother. She encouraged her children to try as many activities as caught their attention but ever to learn and read. Once annoyed that her boys were spending much time reading comic books, she received a bit of wisdom when informed “They’re reading aren’t they.”
Shirley was a loving mother and homemaker, a very good cook, and dessert maker. Many wanted either her Walnut Maple Cake or its recipe. The family during all of this found themselves living in Pullman and Bellevue, Washington, then Sweet Home, Keizer, and Newport, Oregon. Sadly, her marriage came apart and in 1970 she packed her children up and moved back to Lonepine, where she worked at the Sanders County Hospital until it closed, and then as Director of Nursing at the Hot Springs Nursing Home. These times were very busy for her; raising children and working, but always finding time for her church. As her children slowly moved off to their own separate lives, she moved into Hot Springs and put more time into community and church.
A member of Business and Professional Women, she also continued her education, receiving a Master’s Degree in Geriatric Nursing which she put to good use both at work and in establishing standards of care for the State of Montana. She was recognized in 1988 by the Montana Nurses Association District 13 as Nurse of Year.
She retired from formal work in 1992, but that did not slow her down. As Hot Springs had little to offer in the way of medical care other than a small clinic, she continued to work as a nurse by visiting those in need of treatment, performing follow up care as needed with wound care, eye drops, and medication needs of the elderly in the area. Shirley enjoyed travel and this led her to visiting the east coast, where she investigated the roots of the Mountjoy side of her family.
In turn, this also led to a trip to England. She also enjoyed a vacation or two in Hawaii, and also a trip to New Zealand. She quite enjoyed bowling and received a number of awards in that sport, along with the comradery of those she played and competed with. Shirley loved her other family, the First Presbyterian Church of Hot Springs and was very active in Presbyterian Women.
Shirley was preceded in death by her eldest brother Robert Campbell; her parents Ethel and John; her youngest son, Gregory; brother-in-law Lester and sister Phyllis Reynolds; daughter-in-law Ann Kontos; sister-in-law Sophie McCoy. She is survived by her remaining children, daughter Amy (Carl) Holden of Hot Springs, sons John (Cheri) Kontos of Rupert, Idaho, and Gerald Kontos of Hot Springs; her brother Alan McCoy of Lonepine; grandchildren Daniel (Morgan) Holden, Geni Holden, Rachel DuBois, Andrew Kontos; great-grandson Alec White, great-granddaughter Meagan Holden; and many beloved nieces, nephews, and extended family members.
A celebration of Shirley’s life will be Saturday, August 5th, at 11 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Hot Springs. A potluck luncheon will take place after the service.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the John C. McCoy Memorial Scholarship or the First Presbyterian Church of Hot Springs.