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Julia Christine Shirley

February 12, 1931 - July 28, 2020

Julie Shirley, beloved mother, true friend, gifted artist, slipped away from us at OHSU on the evening of July 28, 2020 at the age of 89.  After suffering a year filled with a house flood, heart attack, two stent surgeries, a move to an assisted living facility, COVID and quarantine in her facility, then finally a subdural hematoma after a bad fall, she said from her hospital bed with her unfailing sense of humor … “after everything that I've been through, if it’s this stupid fall that kills me, I’ll be so MAD!” 


She is survived by her children Andrea Luttrell, Matt Shirley, and Elizabeth Quill, as well as grandchildren Josh Luttrell, Kathryn Luttrell, Chris Shirley, Anja Shirley, and Max Quill, her five beloved great grandchildren Rhiannon, Bret, Jake, Lilly and Forest, and her cat, Buster.  


Born in Tucson, Arizona, Julia Penny was the youngest of five children.  Moving to Eugene, Oregon at 17, she was popular and active in her high school, even named “Girl of the Month” in the Eugene paper.  After graduation, she attended the U of O art program, where she met and married Richard Shirley.  Raising her three children, she really was THAT mom;  baking treats for special occasions, making beautiful costumes, stuffed animals and Christmas stockings from scratch… she was the perfect Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. She was also an amazing seamstress, making beautiful clothing not only for the kids but for herself as well.


The family moved to Portland, closer to Julie’s family, in the 1960’s.  Going to work for the first time at the Citizens Bank (later Bank of America) after 14 years as a housewife and mother, she still found time to be that amazing mom, as well as getting her first driver’s license (and car), climbing the occasional mountain with her Mazamas group, checking out cross country skiing and horseback riding, traveling with her siblings, and of course, painting when she could find the time.


Art was a lifelong passion of Julie’s.  When she retired from the bank at 65, she was able to enjoy it to the fullest.  She loved watercolor, but she also enjoyed using acrylics and other media, including stunning custom quilts for family and friends.  A member of the Watercolor Society of Oregon since 1984, Lake Area Artists since 1988, and her very special Saturday Class at the Lakewood Center since forever, she participated in and helped with many shows and exhibits around the state, receiving several awards and honors. 


Julie always had a pet or two sharing her days.  Her last dog, Charlie, ran her life and inspired her art for many years.  They had a huge group of friends, human and canine, in the neighborhood, and Charlie figured prominently in some wonderful paintings and many hand painted Christmas cards.  Buster, her final cat companion, was a sweet rescue that provided her with much joy over the last few years.


    Julie Shirley

    Mother, grandmother,

      great-grandmother and

      celebrated painter.

Those of you who knew her as family will miss all of the above, as well as her ferocious commitment to us all… the always remembered birthdays, holidays and anniversaries, the personal and often handmade gifts, the love of gardens, animals, travel and a good restaurant.  We called her our cruise director (and energizer bunny) for a reason… she always had an itinerary planned, timetable, meals and scenic highlights included!


In true Julie fashion, she left a letter in her apartment for her three children, just in case.  She apologized for the mess she might have left, worried about the cat, expressed her love and gratitude, then closed with one wish… love one another.


It’s been said that when someone’s passing deeply touches many other lives, it means they have truly lived their own.  This is certainly true of Julie, and we are all better for having shared her journey.

Family Photos:

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