So who’s counting? No one that I know of, but if they were, everyone who ever met Shirley Walk Morefield would have her name on their Top 5 list for the way she looked, acted and spoke, all with such delicate prim and proper manners.
Shirley died July 14 at 95. She literally touched more people than you can imagine, working more than 55 years as a surgical nurse and surgical nursing director.
She was mom and mother-in-law to Richmond residents Klip and Vona Morefield.
Shirley and her late husband, William B. Morefield Jr., were from Princeton, W. Va. They moved to Texas in 1962 and lived in Houston and Galveston before making their last home in Richmond.
After a career in sales, Bill retired from his own real estate company.
He was also known as a man of stylish tastes and never went anywhere unless properly attired from his shiny shoes to his felt fedora.
After high school in Princeton, Shirley attended and graduated from St. Mary’s School of Nursing in Huntington, W.Va., and her first nursing job was back at Princeton General.
Klip used to marvel at his mother’s preparation for her next day at work. “She’d wash and starch her white uniform, then iron it to perfection,” he said.
“She’d wash and starch her nurse’s cap and throw it against the refrigerator door to dry. She was so proud of her nursing outfit plus her black nursing cape.”
In 1962, when Klip was 12, his uncle kept urging Bill to move to Houston because business opportunities were much better than in West Virginia.
Bill moved down six months earlier to settle into a new job. “Mom and I left Princeton in our Buick Special convertible,” Klip said. She did the driving, and I had the maps for navigating.
“We’d drive 300 miles a day before Mom got tired. It took us four days to make the trip.”
On arrival, Shirley went to work as a surgical nurse at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital.
It didn’t take the doctors long to recognize Shirley’s skills at readying surgical suites for them, with instruments and lights placed in ‘just so’ order.
Shirley became friends with Dr. Denton Cooley, and she and Bill often joined Dr. Cooley’s parties at his weekend place in Orchard.
She later moved to Bellaire General Hospital as director of surgical nurses. After realizing what they’d lost, St. Luke’s offered her the job of assistant director of nursing.
“Mom was so happy she’d chosen nursing as a career,” Klip said.
She and Bill joined Faith United Methodist Church of Richmond. Later, Shirley transferred to St. John’s United Methodist Church in Richmond, where Klip and Vona are stalwarts.
In addition to her numerous proper habits, which came so naturally, Shirley always had a big smile that radiated.
About five or six years ago, I invited Shirley to join me for lunch in Sugar Land at one of those “fru-fru” ladies restaurants.
I’m glad she was with me to translate the menu, which I had a hard time understanding.
I said, “Shirley, I believe you’re my best luncheon date ever.”
Uh oh! Wrong button.
She sat up a little straighter and her eyes got a little bigger and she said, “Bill, this is not a date!”
I stammered, “Oh, no. I didn’t mean like a date-date. I should have said ‘lunch guest.’
“Lunch guest. Okay that’s fine. I like being your lunch guest, that’s good,” she said as a smile re-lit her face.
I never mentioned, nor did she, ever again about my gigantic faux pas.
Instead I tried to fake my way through a hazelnut and pine nut on kale salad with a sprinkle of honey mustard and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
Other than gagging on my words and nearly getting a Hazelnut caught in my throat, my luncheon with Shirley was fascinating.
I’ve often wondered what minding your Ps and Qs meant. I looked it up:
“It’s an English language expression meaning “mind your manners,” “mind your language,” “be on your best behavior,” “watch what you’re doing.”
Attempts at explaining the origin of the phrase go back to the mid-19th century.
Some have to work to put on their Ps and Qs.
Not Shirley. Hers were natural. What a delightful lady.
Reach BH at firstname.lastname@example.org.