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Art Creative 06


Shirley Mae (Anderson) Rothwell

April 27, 1936 ~ September 17, 2018 (age 82)

Shirley Mae Rothwell of Great Falls, passed away peacefully on Monday, September 17, 2018, at the age of 82, having lived a full long life. A Public Visitation will be held Saturday, September 22, 2018 at 12:00 PM, one hour prior to the Funeral Service at 1:00 PM in the Rose Room Chapel at Croxford Funeral Home.

Shirley was born on April 27, 1936 in Great Falls, Montana to parents Mazie and Elmer “Andy” Anderson.  She attended Great Falls High School and then continued her education at Montana State University earning a Bachelor of Science in Art and History. While in a registration line, in 1954, Shirley met who would be the love of her life, John Rothwell. They married two years later in September of 1956, and they both graduated together in 1958. The life they shared was blessed with two daughters and one son. Sadly, John had an untimely passing in October of 2003. It can be remembered saying that he was lucky enough to have met and married a girl that had the patience and forgiveness that only a saint could have with her husband, that he loved her dearly, and that she was truly the magic cement that kept their marriage and family glued together.

Shirley was a student of Art, past and present. She loved to travel and visited many famous museums and galleries in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Japan. She studied pottery under Frances Sensca and attended private work-shops of Rich Pope and Chansen Chang. But ultimately created her own style of pottery. She said, “clay is a product of the earth, and as such, my pots reflect that origin.” She has had her work exhibited in Juried Shows at Gallery Trinitas at the University of Great Falls, Charles M. Russell Museum, Gallery 16, Paris Gibson Square, Art in the Park, Montana State Fair Fine Arts Department, Depot Gallery, Montana State University Student shows and in numerous private collections.

In her later years, she became interested in fiber arts, spinning, weaving, and knitting. She made scarves and tote bags out of hand-spun and dyed natural fibers.  From a passion for all styles of art, she was known for having taught numerous craft and art related classes at the YWCA, Paris Gibson Square, and at the University of Great Falls.

Shirley engulfed herself not just in art, but in the community. In the 70s, she was actively involved in the PTA for Riverview School and North Jr. High, serving as the President during several of those years. She was even asked to organize a PTA for the new Jr. High before it opened. From 1976-1978, Shirley was the Vice Chairman on the Christian Service Board for First Congregational Church. There she started and organized the Thanksgiving Day Baskets for the needy in Great Falls. She was also an active member of the choir for over 25 years, served as a Sunday School Teacher, was on the Display Committee for 4 years, and was the Chairman for the Christmas Bazaar.

From the early 70s to her death, Shirley was a proud member of Daughters of the Nile, Sapphira Temple #79, where she took on roles of Dance Director and Costume Designs. She was also an active member of the Eastern Star, White Shrine, MSU Alumni Association, YWCA Board of Director, a member on the committee which started Mercy Home, a member of Chapter Q of P.E.O. (Philanthropic, Educational, Organization), in addition to many others.

One of her most proud achievements was being part owner and member of Gallery 16 in Great Falls, for over 32 years. As a potter, each hand made piece was original and each original piece sometimes pushed the clay to its limits. They were then fired and glazed to preserve their shape. Shirley also preserved the shape of the arts and crafts community in which she thrived over the course of her life.

Her love for art and for her community will not go unforgotten.

She is survived in passing by her daughter, ReAnn Shirley Rothwell (Daryl Kingsland); son, J. Mark (Shawna Knudson) Rothwell; and grandchildren, Deanna Lee Rothwell, Garrison John Rothwell, Derek Knute Rothwell.

Shirley was preceded in death by her loving husband John Asa Rothwell; parents Mazie and Elmer “Andy”; and daughter Denise Lucylle Rothwell.

The family would like to give special thanks to her caregivers, Michael L., Mike P., and Wendy, who gave their absolute compassion and care for Shirley during her final months.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Shriners.



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