OBITUARY: Shirley Ann Carper

Shirley Ann (Scherer) Carper, 87, passed away peacefully in her sleep on June 1, 2022, at her home in North Newton.

Admirably, Shirley blessed others by placing primary importance on the bonds of family and friendship. Shirley is survived by her loving husband of nearly 60 years, Dr. Owen E. Carper, their four children and 10 adoring grandkids.

Shirley was born on Jan. 14, 1935, at her family home in Kansas City, Kan., to German immigrant parents John Henry and Anna Elisabeth (Scholl) Scherer. Growing up as a first-generation American during the World War II years, she was blessed by her loyal close-knit family consisting of her younger brother, Johnny, and three older sisters: Doris, Hildegard and Ellen Rose. Along with her family, she attended a Swedish Covenant church and dedicated her life to Christ at her neighborhood Bible Club.

She was loved by her Aunt Lena and Uncle Otto who lived in their Kansas City neighborhood. Otto lovingly called Shirley Gruschtela which means “little crust.” Shirley’s loyalty extended not only to her family, but also to her circle of lifelong friends. The bonds that began in grade school carried them through Rosedale High School and into their golden years. The surviving “Rosedale Lunch Bunch” gals continue to meet monthly.

In 1956, Shirley graduated from the Swedish Covenant Hospital School of Nursing in Chicago. Upon graduation, she returned to Kansas City and practiced nursing at KU Medical Center. It was there that she met a handsome young medical student named Owen Carper. After church one Sunday, he famously asked her, “How ‘bout a cup of coffee, Shirl?” They were destined to share coffee for a lifetime. After that first date, there were many more. Getting caught in a rainstorm at Starlight Movie Theater, Owen and Shirley grasped hands while running to shelter. Shirley described the thrill of that moment as “the feeling of coming home.” They married on June 12, 1962. The following year, Nicholas arrived.

Shirley’s nursing career carried Owen through medical school, residency and his years serving in public health as a doctor for Native American tribes in New Mexico and Arizona. It was at this point that the first severe trial of grief confronted them. In the space of two years, they lost two infant children. Annie lived to be three days old, and Matthew lived nearly 4 months. Being a twin to Matthew, baby John brought them both joy and consolation.  =The following year, God blessed them with healthy baby Amanda, and the year after that baby Susan arrived to complete their family.

In the early 1970s, the Carper family made their home in Newton, where Shirley dedicated herself in supporting her husband and children. Her widowed father moved in with the family. Shirley and Owen provided and cared for Grandpa Scherer for over 20 years. Shirley developed her knack for “cheerful hospitality,” welcoming her cherished nephews, nieces and friends for meals and even extended stays. Shirley loved staying at home and sewing beautiful clothing for herself and her daughters, as well as countless Raggedy Ann dolls and classic Teddy bears for children everywhere. Her artistic talents were refined in her many years of making fine hooked wool rugs.

Shirley gradually succumbed to dementia but maintained her sweet nature and lived at her home to the end because of the loving support of her family and the compassionate care of her stellar CNAs and her wonderful hospice friends.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Friday, June 3, 2022, at Grace Community Church in Newton, where the casket will be open prior to service time.

Interment will be in the Greenwood Cemetery in Newton.

A memorial has been established with Children’s Haven International, and contributions may be sent to Broadway Colonial Funeral Home, 120 E. Broadway, Newton, Ks. 67114.

Arrangements are by Broadway Colonial Funeral Home, Newton.

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