Cover photo for Shirley McCullough's Obituary
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1925 Shirley 2022

Shirley McCullough

October 23, 1925 — December 29, 2022

     On December 29, 2022, Shirley Louise Day McCullough passed away at Country House in Kearney NE surrounded by her family.  Visitation will be held at Govier Brother’s Mortuary on Tuesday, January 3, 2023, from 10 AM-6 PM with the family present from 4-6 PM.

     Funeral services will be held at the Berean Church, Broken Bow on Wednesday, January 4, 2023, at 1:00 PM with Pastor Tyce Jensen and Pastor Larry DeMoss officiating. Burial will follow at Ansley Cemetery in Ansley, NE, with Govier Brother’s Mortuary handling the funeral arrangements. Condolences may be left at

      Shirley was born on October 23, 1925, at home in rural Miller NE with Doctor Laughin from Elm Creek in attendance. She attended elementary school 7.5 miles Northeast of Miller at Grandview School, District 82, Buffalo County, where she developed a love of learning.  She was characterized by boundless energy described by her mom with the ability to wear out two pairs of shoes while others wore out one.

     After graduating Miller High School, she attended summer school at Kearney State Teacher’s College and began her career in September 1943, at District 67, Upper Cat Creek in Custer County. Before her marriage, during the week, she boarded with patrons of the districts where she taught and made her way home for the weekend.

     In the early days, Shirley carried all the water for the day to the building, started & maintained the fire, and rode her horse cross country in order to start school on time, and snatched a shot gun from a nearby house to kill a rattle snake that had invaded her school. She loved her students, not only diligently teaching them, but also playing games with them, and reading to them after noon recess. 

     In 1945, while teaching at Ash Grove, District 226, Shirley met Alfred E. McCullough while he was home on furlough from the navy armed guard. Her sisters teased her by singing, “Bell Bottom Trousers” to the couple.

     On June 8, 1947, Shirley and Alfred were united in marriage at the Emmanuel Missionary Church, in rural Buffalo County. A partnership began with Shirley teaching, Alfred renting farmland, and pouring resources into buying land for their farm. They labored side by side in the fields and with the cattle to meet expenses. 

     Building the farm coincided with building a family.  From 1951-1954, three little girls were born. In the early years, many times Shirley sewed matching dresses for her trio. When weddings began, she sewed her dresses & the entire bridesmaid dresses for 3 weddings.

     The family attended many area horse shows and parades with Alfred & Shirley teaming up with fellow members of Muddy Creek Saddle Club to compete in events. On many occasions, the prize money won from the competitions would buy groceries for the following week. In later years, Shirley acted as pit crew while Alfred entertained parade crowds as his horse returned a dropped hat to his hand.

     Hunting pheasants along roadsides as she went to school and bagging a deer during season were inexpensive ways to bring food to the table. She raised chickens, planted gardens, canned the produce, and packed away a year’s supply of potatoes in the cellar.

     Alfred and Shirley loved to travel, see sights, and visit relatives across the country. Twice, they drove to Canada, tying moose horns to the top of the Ford Escort for the return trip.

     Many family members and neighbors received quilts and pillows lovingly made by Shirley.  She skillfully crocheted doilies at night when the other work was done.

     While teaching, Shirley continued to take college classes in the summer and at night until she was able to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education in 1969.

     In 1966, Shirley accepted a position at Anselmo-Merna Public School, moving on to Broken Bow where she retired from in 1987.

     Shirley proudly provided a welcoming home for friends and family. From the year she was married until 2020, she hosted family & friends to Easter dinner and the much-loved Easter egg hunt.

     In our family, she was always the first to rise, the last to go to bed, the first to start a task, the last to quit. She instilled in her progeny a love of God, country, and a loyalty and service to family and friends. Right was right and wrong had consequences. We never wanted to disappoint her; we wanted to make her proud. She was the backbone of our family and her passing leaves a void we struggle to fill.

    Shirley was proceeded in death by her husband, Alfred E. McCullough; father, Harold R. Day; mother, Mabel (Keyser) Day; brothers: Jack and Norman Day; sister: Jeanne Stevens.

     Shirley is survived by her daughters: Cynthia (Stuart) Cooksley Valentine NE, Cathy (Kent) Larson Kearney NE, and Kaye (Mike) Myers Oconto NE; sisters: Susan Underhill and Sarah Jane Graham; grandchildren:  Ben (Jilleen) Cooksley, Jennifer (Frank) Beel, Tara (Craig) McCurry, Miles (Dessa) Cooksley, Seth (Makenna) Cooksley, Jason (Melissa) Larson, Nathan Larson, Zachary (Ashley) Larson, Megan (Aaron) Mitchell, Tanner (Tara) Myers, Morgan (Abe) Hinman, Trevor Myers, Hunter (Leslie) Myers, and Ky Myers; Great grandchildren: Ryan Cooksley, Claire Cooksley, Colin Cooksley, Moriah Beel, CeeAnna Beel, Katrina Beel, Lily Beel, Cadyn McCurry, Grace McCurry, Jaxson McCurry, Connor Cooksley, Carson Cooksley, Mason Cooksley, Maddox Cooksley, Mila Cooksley, Cora Cooksley, Isaac Larson, Matthew Larson, Carter Larson, William Larson, Isabella Larson, Zayden Larson, Easton Larson, Azlyn Larson, Adalyn and Maren Mitchell, Alexa Myers, Olivia & Rosalynn Myers, Palynn Hinman, and numerous nieces and nephews.

     In lieu of flowers, please contribute to Shirley McCullough Memorial Fund.


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