Lewis Wetzel (Lew) Shirey, 93, passed away peacefully in his sleep on January 27th, 2022, in Poland, Ohio.
Lew was born in Ellwood City, PA to Harry Sebastian Shirey and Tena Matilda (Tillie) Powell.
He met his childhood sweetheart, Margaret (Peggy) Adams, at an eighth-grade skating party. They remained a couple throughout high school and college, married in 1951 and went on to celebrate over 70 years in matrimony.
One strong thread laced through the fabric of Lew’s life was the importance of service to his community. It may have started during his Reform Church youth activities or perhaps it first emerged during World War II when he saw his older brothers, Bud and Lee, go off to war. Staying home, Lew did his part by serving as a blackout air raid warden.
Lew was a graduate of Westminster College and Penn State University in Speech and Drama. He acted in theater productions at the Little Theater and worked in radio at a New Castle station, but his passion was broadcasting sports events.
Lew entered the US Army during the Korean War, attended Officer Candidate School, worked with the Signal Corps and attained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.
After discharge, Lew and Peg started a family of four children, always giving each of them endless support, love and guidance during their lifetimes. He began a 35-year career with GF Business Equipment, was Manager of Marketing Training and was transferred to Memphis in the 60s for 6 years.
Lew developed a passion for travel, and he eventually made it to every US state and several other countries. Favorite family vacations usually involved time on the beach, often in Alabama and North Carolina.
Lew loved theater throughout his life, participating in his own college stage productions and later volunteering with his kids’ high school productions and supporting the Youngstown Playhouse. He especially enjoyed reminiscing about how he and Peg helped found the Red Barn Theater in 1955, joining a group of thespian enthusiasts who created a working theater out of a barn in the countryside outside of Ellwood and started a theater company which continues to entertain today. Actors had to compete with the sounds of sheep in the stalls under the theater floor in the early years!
After moving to Poland in 1969, he became very active in the schools, served as STEP president and was a longtime Poland Athletic Booster. Having a very competitive streak, his deep voice often carried through a game crowd with the loud plea of, “AW, COME ON, REF!”, sometimes to the chagrin of family. He participated in the Carnival Dance Club as well as bridge club, was a member of the Ellwood City Masonic Lodge, past president of the Poland Swim and Tennis Club, past treasurer of the Poland Historical Society and loved working at Kiwanis Club events such as their Classic Car Show and fifth-grade basketball tourney. He was quick to organize a game or event of any sort with family or friends and just loved having fun together with other people.
Lew was active in church service throughout his life and was a 52-year member of the Poland United Methodist Church, a frequent usher, liturgist and volunteer at activities and fundraisers. He served as chaplain for the American Legion Mahoning Valley Post 15 and was honored to be the Grand Marshall of their Poland Memorial Day Parade in 2017.
After retiring, he occupied his time by working seasonally at H&R Block and occasionally driving car dealership vehicles to other destinations, undoubtedly fulfilling both his love of cars and travel. He would proudly declare that he was a “professional driver.”
Lew cherished children and when he walked into a room they would usually dart to him to wrestle or play, scramble into his lap to read a book or join him in fun songs. His own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will long bear memories of the sound of him crooning “You Are My Sunshine” and other children’s favorites.
Lew brought love, joy and a special type of enthusiasm to all he touched. He enjoyed serving his family, his community and his country, made the world a better place through his tireless actions, and will be missed by many.
Lew was preceded in death by his brothers, Lee and Harry (Bud) Shirey, and his sister, Doris Bowdler. He is survived by his wife, Margaret (Peg) Shirey; sons Rick (Linda) Shirey of Grove City, OH; Eric (Linda Elwood) Shirey of Seattle, WA; Dave (Cheri) Shirey of Powell, OH; and daughter, Jane (Tony) Congelio of Poland.
He is also survived by eight grandchildren: Alicia (Justin) Miller of Grove City, OH; Matthew Shirey of Winston Salem, NC; Sage Shirey of Albany, NY; Jasmine (Alan Morris) Shirey of Lebanon, NH; Christopher Congelio of Poland; Trevor (Karen) Shirey of Worthington, OH; Tyler and Jason Shirey of Denver, CO; as well as three great-grandchildren: Skylar, Kaim and Aria.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Saturday, May 14, 2022 at 1 p.m. at the Poland United Methodist Church, where family and friends will be received from 12-12:45 p.m., prior to the service.
Any memorial tributes may take the form of donations to the United Methodist Church at 1940 Boardman Poland Road, Poland, Ohio 44514, and the Alzheimer Network, 4214 Market St, Boardman, OH 44512, http://www.alzarnet.org/donate/.
Arrangements are being handled by the Cunningham-Becker Funeral Home in Poland. Please visit www.beckerobits.com to share memories and online condolences with the family.