White, Shirley Etta (Miller)


Shirley Etta (Miller) White was born March 26, 1931, in Denver, Colorado, to Charles E. and Edith Miller. She died February 7, 2018, at the age of 86, from lung cancer complicated by old age. Shirley had a genuine zest for life, a welcoming and expansive spirit, and a dry sense of humor along with a quick wit that delighted her friends and family.

As a girl, Shirley excelled in 4-H and travelled to the National 4-H Congress in Washington, D.C. In 1951, she lived and worked on a farm in Norway for a year as a participant in the International 4-H Youth Exchange (IFYE) program. Her IFYE experience shaped her life and her interest in travel and youth development.

Following her graduation from Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University), she began her career teaching home economics in Dalton, Nebraska. Teaching and learning were passions she carried throughout her life. In 1955, she married Jim White and they established a veterinary practice in Bridgeport, Nebraska. After a short detour to Douglas, Arizona, in 1956-57, they returned to Bridgeport where Jim practiced until his death in 1990.

Shirley served as the home economics extension agent in Morrill County before taking time out of her career to raise their two daughters, Cindy and Marcia. She returned to teaching as the home economics instructor at Bridgeport High School in 1970 and remained there until her retirement in the early ‘80’s. She earned her master’s degree from Chadron State College by taking classes during the summers.

While at Bridgeport High School, Shirley developed ‘Bachelor Survival,’ a course designed to engage young men in learning basic home management skills. The course was revolutionary for its time. As an FHA (now FCCLA) advisor active on the state level, she helped a whole generation of young women find their voice. Her students remember her as a ‘spunky’ teacher who made learning fun. As a teacher and mentor, Shirley was nonjudgmental, caring, supportive, creative, and led by example. Many of her students and friends also remember seeing her stand on her head.

After her retirement from teaching, she started a computer consulting business which included installing computer-based management systems in veterinary practices around the country. She moved to Lincoln in 1994 to be closer to her family, especially her grandsons, Alex and Jake Cerny. She became “Grandma Shirley” to an extended group of kids known as “the South 28th Street Gang.” In reality, she became Grandma Shirley to any child who would have her and that was most of them. As Alex said, “She was the kind of grandma everybody would want.”

She was active in her church in Bridgeport and did innovative work around rural ministry and small church survival. After her move to Lincoln she was active with the Church of the Holy Trinity and St. David’s Episcopal Church. At the state level, she was the convener for Women’s Ministries for the Diocese of Nebraska and served in Diocesan leadership. Nationally, she served on the Executive Committee of Episcopal Church Women (ECW) and as a delegate from ECW to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

She became involved with the Lincoln Children’s Zoo through Alex and Jake and volunteered there as the conductor of the train, a duty she fulfilled with glee and enthusiasm. She later served as the “bug lady’ introducing children to the wonderful world of insects.

Shirley loved her family, her many friends, chocolate, margaritas, travel, animals, winning, books and reading, a good joke, and telling stories, not necessarily in that order.

Memories of Shirley include the words unconditional love and acceptance, ornery, brave, kind, friend, counselor, confidant, strong, remarkable, compassionate, amazing, gracious, smiling, lively, encouraging, sassy, empathetic, welcoming, generous, fun, and funny.

Shirley’s family includes her daughters Cindy (Ron) Cerny and Marcia White of Lincoln, and grandsons Alex Cerny of Lincoln and Jake Cerny of Atlanta, Georgia. She was preceded in death by her husband Jim, her sister, Charline, and her parents.

A visitation with family (no viewing) will be held at Butherus, Maser and Love, 4040 A Street. on Sunday February 11, from 4 to 7 p.m. A funeral service will be held at St. David's Episcopal Church, 8800 Holdrege Street, Lincoln, on Monday, February 12, at 11 a.m. Memorials may be made to St David's or to the Lincoln Children's Zoo.

Guestbook for White, Shirley Etta (Miller)

10:13AM Feb 12th, 2018
Dear Marcia and Cindy, I was always very impressed with your mother, whenever she came with you to St. Mark's. She was outgoing, gracious and so genuine. I was also so impressed to read about her full and extraordinary life in the paper. I am truly sorry to hear of her passing. My sincere condolences.
Pippa White Lawson (Lincoln, NE)
9:35AM Feb 12th, 2018
Grandma Shirley had an amazing impact on the lives of anyone who had the fortune of spending time with her. I have many fond memories spending time over at her house with Alex and riding around in her van to and from concerts, practices, and games. She was always there to support us.
Sean & Katie Wendling (Blue Springs, MO)
3:44AM Feb 12th, 2018
Ms. Shirley brought such joy and laughter to my life! I called her my sugar sugar, and she called me honey honey. Every time I said goodbye she would say the same thing: “Take care of yourself.” Take care of yourself, Shirley. I love you!
Nicole “Nikki” Hanson (Legacy Terrace, Lincoln, NE)
3:33PM Feb 11th, 2018
Dear Cerny family and Marcia, I was sorry to read about the loss of Shirley. I always enjoyed seeing her at LHS activities. Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. Take good care of each other. With sincere sympathy,
Ellen Moeller (Lincoln, NE)
10:22AM Feb 11th, 2018
My deepest sympathies. Love & prayers sent your way
Corinne (Covalt) Spilker (Malcolm, NE)
9:27AM Feb 11th, 2018
Marcia, Cindy and family - Prayers and deepest sympathies. Each time I saw your mom she was smiling, cheerful and clearly proud of you all.
Denise Bulling (Lincoln, NE)
5:23AM Feb 11th, 2018
When I hear that Children's Zoo train whistle blow, I'll think of Shirley highballin' through the sky.
Bill Swearingen (Lincoln, NE)
10:42AM Feb 10th, 2018
May her memory be eternal
George and Be Chikos (Bridgeport , NE)
12:50PM Feb 8th, 2018
All our love and prayers to the family. Shirley was a sweet lady and she will be missed.
Lee and Ellen Ehlers (Omaha, NE)

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