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Shirley Jo Harrelson Long: Tabor City

1945 – 2019

     Shirley Jo Harrelson Long of Tabor City died Tuesday, Sept. 24, in McLeod Regional Medical Center, Florence. She was 73.

     She was born Oct. 24, 1945 in Columbus County.

     Her life centered around her love of God and her family.

     In addition to being a loving spouse to Jimmy Dale Long, she was a loyal, supportive and wonderful “Mama” to Sheryl Long, of Winston-Salem, and Deborah Long Goldberg (Jon) of Charlotte, a doting “Grandma Shirley” to Julia and William, a caring “Aunt Shirley” and a great friend to so many others from school, church and the community.

     Family and friends gathered to celebrate her then 50 years of marriage to Jimmy Dale in 2015. Guest-made signs remarked on their decades of love and dedication for each other while family spoke of 50 years of made-from-scratch biscuits.

     Shirley spoke with nostalgia about growing up in Wrightsville Beach in the 1950s as the daughter of Harry and Marsier Gaskin Harrelson, going frequently to movies across the street from her house. She had many stories about living there during Hurricane Hazel.

     Another childhood story told of the summer she befriended the famous scientist Rachel Carson. Shirley graduated from Williams Township in 1964 as valedictorian and married Jimmy in 1965. Other than a year overseas in Germany during Jimmy’s military service, they made the Dulah community their home.

     Church was a second home for Shirley. She spent countless hours supporting church members, directing Vacation Bible School and planning special programming.

     She had many interests outside of church and her family. She was an excellent seamstress sewing love into pieces throughout the years from her wedding dress to baby clothes, prom dresses, and her daughter’s wedding veil.

     Every year she cultivated a bountiful garden yielding bushels of corn, beans, squash, and most importantly, her beloved home-grown tomatoes. Numerous promises of a “smaller garden next year” went unfulfilled.

     She was a voracious reader and had a love of learning that she instilled in her children.

     Her pound cake was perfection.

     She had a warm smile and big laugh, especially so when surrounded by family, friends and a bucket of oysters.

     Shirley will be missed greatly, but never forgotten.

     Visitation was planned from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, in Inman Ward Funeral Home.

     Funeral services were planned for 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, in Dulah Missionary Baptist Church, burial following in the church cemetery.

     Donations in her memory may be made to the Columbus County Public Library, 407 N. JK Powell Blvd., Whiteville, NC 28472.

     A guest register is available here.