Shirley Jean Pike, 68, of Marion, died Oct. 28, 2017 at her home following a courageous battle against the blood cancer multiple myeloma. She was born Aug. 2, 1949, in Ottumwa, Iowa, the daughter of Harold Dewey Pike and Marguerite Cleone Pike Berntsen.
She was preceded in death by her maternal and paternal grandparents, her father and two aunts, Marion Reese Dyer and Dorothy Moore.
She is survived by her husband of over 30 years, Michael John Hemmingson. Michael was her faithful, loving, life partner and best friend. Together they had two daughters, Sara Jean Hemmingson and Marguerite Isajoy (Jay) Jayasimha. She loved her delightful granddaughters, Shefali and Shreya. She is survived by her mother, Cleone Berntsen. She had two brothers, Harold Lloyd Pike, father of her niece Rachel McAnally (Pike) and her nephew, Brian Scott Pike and Thomas Paul Pike, whose intellectual disability inspired her life's work. She also is survived by her father's sister, Patricia Ann Lowrey Berntsen and husband Richard. Their five children and 13 grandchildren have provided many happy memories of gatherings of cousins over the years. Shirley's greatest pride and joy always was found within her family, her daughters and her granddaughters.
After earning a specialized master's degree in psychological services from the California State University at Northridge, Calif., Shirley worked for over 30 years as a school psychologist, 26 of them with the Grant Wood Area Education Agency in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She focused on identifying students who had learning challenges and determining the best supports possible to meet their needs. She enjoyed her work and the opportunities it provided to help teachers, students and their families. She also worked on many projects beyond the scope of her daily work over the years, such as developing an anti-bullying curriculum for middle school students.
Shirley was a lifelong spiritual seeker, traveling to India four times, searching out the beauty and truth that can be found in all of the great world religions. She was one of the founders of the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County and very active in the organization for over 10 years, serving in all offices. She enjoyed serving others, providing food for the homeless, working with organizations such as Faith in Action and Friends of the Linn County Child Development Center. She was a lifelong vegetarian and enjoyed Hatha Yoga. She loved nature, art and listening to the beautiful music made by her daughters, granddaughters and son-in-law.
Shirley was humbled by the outpouring of support and prayers from so many that she received during her struggle with multiple myeloma. She was especially grateful for the group of close girlfriends who sustained her through challenging times. The "Goddesses" had many wonderful, fun-filled times together.
Shirley was especially grateful to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences where the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy is housed and to Dr. van Rhee and his dedicated staff for the care they provided her.
A family and friends gathering will be held at home from 2 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1. Donations in Shirley's memory may be sent to the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy at UAMS in Little Rock, Ark.; (myeloma.uams.edu/giving/).
Please share a memory of Shirley at www.murdochfuneralhome.com under obituaries.