Cover photo for Shirley Mary Wilcox's Obituary
Shirley Mary Wilcox Profile Photo
1938 Shirley 2024

Shirley Mary Wilcox

November 11, 1938 — January 18, 2024

Little Falls, New York

Shirley Wilcox was born Shirley Mary Ashworth on November 11, 1938, in Middletown, New York, to Charles Albert Ashworth and Ruth Ellen Ashworth (Cuddeback). Shirley passed away on January 18, 2024, surrounded by her family at the Wynn Hospital in Utica, New York.

She was the first member of her family to attend college, and she graduated from Oneonta State University in 1960 with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She met her future husband, Frank Wilcox, in 1962, while she was working as a kindergarten teacher, and he was working as an art teacher in the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District.  They were married in 1964 in Otisville, New York. The couple moved to Little Falls, New York, in 1972, where they raised their three daughters. 

Shirley was a renaissance woman, having worked as a teacher, then in real estate, was a member of the United States Navy Reserves, and even trained to be a paralegal. However, her passion involved advocating for individuals with disabilities to ensure that those individuals had access to equal education and the support needed to live a productive and meaningful life. Shirley worked for the New York State Boards of Cooperative Services, assisting individuals with physical and emotional challenges. She served on numerous committees and councils related to issues that concern those with disabilities. Shirley volunteered at the daycare in her local Episcopal church and at her local food pantry. She volunteered at the Learning Disability Association of the Mohawk Valley. She became an advocate for families whose children were diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder, and other various learning or developmental disorders. Shirley also worked independently as an advocate in the community and was seen as a source of support for families and their children who struggled with these diagnoses. Her devotion to her work culminated in 1997 when Governor George Pataki appointed Shirley to the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities’ Board of Visitors. 

To say Shirley was stubborn is an understatement. She survived cancer - twice. In 1981, Shirley was left partially paralyzed from spinal cord cancer, and in 2019, she was diagnosed with brain cancer. Despite her complex medical difficulties, she remained active with her family and in her community. Her greatest joy involved any activity with her grandchildren. Nothing could stop her from loving those kids, and she enjoyed reading and doing projects with them and having many conversations about events in their lives. 

Shirley was known by her loved ones as a strong-willed woman with a unique perspective on life and someone who overcame great obstacles. She touched many people’s lives and will be greatly missed by those who had the privilege of meeting her.

She is survived by her husband, Frank David Wilcox of Little Falls, sister, Sharon Rice, daughters, Sarah Anne Wilcox-Adelman (Todd Adelman), Jessica Ruth Wilcox (Geoffrey Gardner), Rachael Elizabeth Wilcox-Rolniak (Douglas Wilcox-Rolniak), niece, Michelle Ruth Dumas (Andrew Dumas), and her beloved grandchildren, Daniel Adelman, Elizabeth Adelman, Rebecca Adelman, Jacob Gardner, Hannah Gardner, Gwyn Wilcox-Rolniak, Penelope Wilcox-Rolniak and grand-nieces Alexa Dumas and Kara Dumas.

A funeral in Shirley’s honor will be held at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Little Falls, NY, on March 9,2024 commencing at 11:00 a.m, officiated by the Rev. Jack Whritenour, Rector.  There are no calling hours. Arrangements for cremation are under the direction and care of the locally/family owned Mohawk Valley Funerals and Cremations (cremation specialists), 7507 State Route 5, between Little Falls and St. Johnsville.  

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Shirley Mary Wilcox, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Emmanuel Episcopal Church

588 Albany St, Little Falls, NY 13365

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