Shirley Ann Tharrington Pitchford, 85, of Fayetteville, North Carolina passed away on June 9, 2021 at Highsmith-Rainey Specialty Hospital. She was seriously injured in a fall in February.
Shirley was born Dec. 8, 1935 in Blowing Rock, N.C. She met her future husband, Samuel Phillip Pitchford, in the second grade of school in Macon, N.C. They dated while at John Graham High School in Warrenton, graduating together in 1952 before Sam was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1954. They got back in touch in 1956, got serious when he returned from Germany in 1959, married in 1960 and became parents to sons William and Phillip in 1962 and 1964, respectively.
Shirley spent 20 years as a military spouse, moving around the U.S. and riding herd on two rambunctious young boys during Sam’s two tours of duty in Vietnam. She also worked as a dispatcher for the gas company, was terminal manager for two trucking companies and travelled the country with Sam as a long-haul trucking couple once her sons were in college. She and Sam crisscrossed the U.S. in an 18-wheeler, with Shirley navigating pre-GPS and sending postcards and letters to family members, for nearly a decade before retiring in the early 1990s. She loved to travel, including to England and Australia with her sister-in-law, Nettie Meador of Oine, N.C., and to Ireland with Nettie and Sam. She loved coming home even more.
Shirley loved to volunteer, giving her time freely to a church thrift shop and providing non-perishable food and drink to a church program designed to help the less fortunate. She frequently could be found planting and trimming bushes and flowers in the yard, pulling weeds and tending to the family garden in the summer. She was empathetic and giving. Whatever place she was in, she made it better through kindness. She took people as they were, found the good in them, and emphasized that. She rarely had a cross word for anyone.
She loved being a grandmother to Cole, Joey, Julianne, Madeline, Samantha and Nathan. She was a source of love, comfort and wise counsel to her daughters-in-law – Ginny (who pre-deceased her), Kathy and Jennie. She was a member of Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Hope Mills, where she helped produce the weekly bulletin. Shirley was known as a tough fighter in her three battles against cancer, which never beat her.
A funeral Mass will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 15 at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Warrenton, N.C. Interment of cremains will follow at Fairview Cemetery, also in Warrenton.
Shirley is survived by her husband of 61 years, Sam Pitchford, of Fayetteville; two sons, William (Jennie) of Cary, N.C. and Phillip (Kathy) of Riverside, California; brother, Harry Tharrington Jr. (Janet) of Warrenton; her six grandchildren; many nieces, nephews and close family friends in North Carolina and Georgia.
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