On January 31, 1936 Shirley Felicia Wallin, also known as “Gan-Gan” to many, was born to (the late) Agnes Britton Minott and Ruel Minott in the City of Colón, Republic of Panama. Shirley was one of four children. She attended Pablo Arosemena Elementary School and Abel Bravo High School. Years later, Shirley was blessed with two daughters -- Sandra and Pamela.
In 1969, Shirley left her home in Colón, migrated to the United States, and made a new home in Brooklyn, New York on Prospect Place where shortly after, her two daughters joined her. In 1974 Shirley became a citizen of the United States. At this time, Shirley was employed as a Telecommunications Operator at AT&T/Bell Atlantic where she worked for over twenty-five years. Shirley and her AT&T teammates were inseparable; they became an addition to her family. She loved those ladies, and they loved her!
In 1974, Shirley reunited with her best friend Earl Wallin in Panama while on vacation. It was at that time that the union between the two was off to an amazing start, and they unified their love in marriage in 1984. During that time, the family grew which allowed Shirley to be blessed with another daughter Charlene. Shirley and Earl shared many memories together. They loved to travel with their grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Shirley loved to cook and travel. A cooler, a full tank of gas, fried chicken, potato salad, a map and a host of kids was all they needed to start their vacation … AND THAT’S A FACT!!!
Shirley loved long drives. Nothing was ever planned. She and Earl were known for their famous New Year’s Eve parties which lasted three days. Family and friends from near and far would not miss this event. It is the event still talked about today.
Shirley’s favorite downtime activities were watching Jeopardy, Family Feud, Wheel of Fortune and doing crossword puzzles. She was a big sports fan! Don’t get her to talk about the Yankees! She loved Salsa. Music would blast through her house playing her favorite artists such as Celia Cruz, Ruben Blades, Tito Puente, Tabou Combo and Marc Anthony.
In 1990, Shirley and Earl got into a deeper relationship with Jesus and began attending Times Square Church every Sunday with the family. Rain or sunshine, they were there! She was a supporter of international missionary work and humanitarian efforts throughout the City. SHIRLEY WAS A GIVER!! SHE GAVE AND HELPED WHEN SHE SAW A NEED!! Her friends at Harlem Square Church knew her as “Mama Shirley”. She was known and loved by so many people. She had a host of friends. She loved everyone. She lived life and lived it well.
As time went on, her family grew. She later became a grandmother to five grandchildren, and great-grandmother to four. Shirley loved her grandkids and loved when they were around her. She enjoyed coaching them on life, and explaining how important it is to be independent and respectful. Although she would spoil them from time to time, she would never spoil them without giving them a message first!
Shirley left us on Monday, February 5, 2018 to return to the Lord. She leaves to cherish her memory, her sister Isabel Reid; her daughters: Charlene, Pamela and Sandra; her five grandchildren: Melissa, Asia, Reagan, Dominique and Ezra; her four great-grandchildren: Jaden, Camila, Mollie Rose and Naasan; her nieces: Estella, Layisha, Nathasha, Shantelle, Chrystal, Vardrin, Patrice and Andrea; her nephews: Guillermo, Edwardo Jr. and Ruel; two sons-in-law: Andre and Michael; her sister-in-law Julia Minott; and host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and amazing family friends.
In the words of Shirley, “See you later alligator”.