Shirley Bigalow, Smith, Cunningham
Shirley Bigalow, Smith, Cunningham, 94, went home to be with the Lord on June 10, 2022. Born in Canton, OH on February 12, 1928 to Ray C. & Lela M. Shively of Alliance, where she lived about three-fourths of her life. She graduated from Alliance High School in 1946 and from Aultman Hospital School of Nursing in 1949. She worked as an RN at the Alliance Community Hospital, the Columbiana County and the Mahoning County Health Departments, and various hospitals in other states where they lived. Until retirement, she spent most of her adult life working. She married Ken Smith in 1974, who died 1981. She married Stanley Cunningham in 1984. He died in 2008.
Shirley was an active member of the First Baptist Church in Alliance. With faith in the Lord, she had joy in working, volunteering, helping family & friends and in living. She was a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor and taught swimming for about 20 years. She initiated the Red Cross Adapted Aquatic classes for disabled children. Physical Therapist, Jesse White was the advisor and trained High School students did the actual teaching “one on one”. She also volunteered with the “Arthritis Foundation” evaluating their water exercise classes in Stark County. Through the years she donated 7 gallons of blood at the Red Cross Blood Banks.
During the1970’s, along with her husband Kenneth Smith and Physical Therapists Bill and Jean Spurgeon, the “Handicapped Awareness” committee was formed. This was a local group connected to the “Presidents and Governors’ committees on “Employment of the Handicapped”. After WWII, President Harry Truman initiated federal laws that would help disabled veterans obtain jobs. The emphasis was on “Handicapped Parking” and accessible buildings. Now the federal law of 1990 is the “Americans with Disabilities Act”. The local efforts were directed toward promoting “Handicapped Parking” spaces and accessible buildings. In 1983 the “Women’s Division of the Alliance Chamber of Commerce” and the “Women’s Division of the Alliance Jaycees” both named her “Women of the Year”. These were in recognition of her advocacy for disabled persons.
In 1969 the Alliance Community Hospital sent her to the Boston University Hospital to one of three US Government sponsored programs to train nurses to help set up and be Head Nurses of Coronary Care Units. Such units were initiated by nuns in a Catholic Hospital in England. They were the beginning of ICU’s. While working as a Public Health Nurse in the 1970’s and 1980’s, she was a “Happy Heart” clown. This was to teach prevention of heart disease to fourth graders in the schools.
During later years she was a volunteer “Ombudsman” through the “Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities”. This was as an advocate position for residents of local Nursing Homes and Assisted Living facilities. She really enjoyed doing “Bed Pan Style Shows”, for which Keith Brill helped to develop the script. She also had fun with “Guess What Animal Donated This Fur” children’s programs. She always made learning fun!
Preceding her in death were her parents, brother Bob (Delta also) Shively; sister Bonnie (Bill also) Somers, grandson Mark Moore, ex-husband James Bigalow, husband Kenneth Smith, husband Stanley Cunningham, Step-son Robert (Lana also) Cunningham and friend Robert McGirr.
She is survived by her children: John (Sharon) Bigalow Beloit, OH; Martha Moore Columbus, OH; David (Becky) Bigalow Phoenix, AZ; Laura (Ron) Drew Cumming, GA, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Extended Family: Christine Miller (Mike) Schwieterman, Norwalk, OH; Elaine Miller (Kent) Downing, Greentown, OH; Ruth Mary Scott, Colorado Springs, CO.
Step-Children & their families: Kaye Smith, Beloit, OH; William (Sharon) Smith, Mundelein, IL; Paul Smith, Grand Rapids, MI. Carole (Willard) Mikes, Shenandoah, VA; Gary Cunningham, New Market, VA.
Funeral arrangements are with Dean’s Funeral Home of Sebring, Ohio. Calling hours 6/15/22 6-8pm, and 1 hour prior to Funeral. Funeral 11am 6/16/22.
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