Shirley Frances Gillentine

July 18, 1924 – January 31, 2021

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It has been said that the greatest aspect of living life well is to live a life of faithfulness. Shirley Frances Reed Gillentine took that adage to heart as she was faithful in family life, church life, friendships and community service. Shirley passed away after a brief illness on January 31, 2021, at Baldwyn Nursing Facility Hospice Care at age 96. Born July 18, 1924, to Cecil and Grace Turner Reed in the Auburn community, Shirley was the second child and first girl of 10 siblings. She began her education at Auburn School and then graduated from East Tupelo High School before attending Mississippi State University to get her teaching degree. She taught school for 2 years at the Auburn School before marrying her sweetheart David Gillentine, Jr. of Skyline on Mother’s Day, May 12, 1946—a union that lasted 68 years. In the 1950s, Shirley worked alongside David when he started a chain of Gillentine Supermarkets in Tupelo, Mooreville, Okolona and Nettleton. In the 1960s, they began Gillentine Realty and Auction Company which lasted 55 years. Amidst working and starting a family of five children, Shirley also actively served as a community volunteer and with her children’s activities. She was homeroom mother, a Sunday School and Vacation Bible School teacher, a Girl Scout leader, an NMMC Gray Lady, Meals on Wheels volunteer, Kidney Foundation Treasurer, an Auburn Homemakers Club member and a seamstress for all of her children’s many ballet costumes.  She was featured as “Cook of the Week” in the Tupelo Daily Journal and loved to make tiny hamburgers for Methodist Youth Fellowship and other groups. Among Shirley’s favorite associations was the women’s civic organization Altrusa International of which she was a dedicated member for over 40 years. She held every office in the club and was President more than once, but her recurring role was that of Newsletter Chairman or Horseshow Chairman, which involved planning a yearly event to raise funds for local community service. Shirley was also actively involved in the First United Methodist Church, where she was a member for 69 years. She served in the Chancel Choir and was a member of the Kumdubal Class. She and David also loved to travel together and visited many countries including Israel, Egypt, Aruba and Cuba.
She was preceded in death by her parents; husband and five brothers, John Turner Reed, Ray Reed, Rex Reed, Billy Reed and Arthur Roy Reed; two sisters, Dorothy Reed and Norma Chaney Jones; two sisters-in-law, Eloine Reed and Shirley Reed; one brother-in-law, Billy Chaney; son-in-law, David Wigginton; granddaughter, Deanna Grace Collins and grandson-in-law, Paul Henderson.

She is survived by her five children: David Van Gillentine, III and wife, Anneil of Saltillo; Kay Collins and husband, Harry of Tupelo; Jan Wigginton of Guntown; Nancy Heberling of Saltillo; and Angie Drake and husband, John of Irving, Texas.
Surviving grandchildren are Jennifer Henderson, Patrick Collins (Jill), Amelia Foote (Chuck), Nathaniel Wigginton (Brittany), Shannon Boose (Brad), Tatum Collins (Sally Kate), Grace Drake and Mary Reed Drake, Todd Stringer (Andrea), Andy Stringer (Jessica), Andy Hyde (Cristen) and Aubrey Ramey (Brett).
Great grandchildren are Jake, Matthew and Nathan Henderson, Kaylee, Kage and Kadance Heberling, Skylar and Jacy Wigginton, Reed Collins, Collins and Francie Kate Foote, Shepherd Collins, Aaron Matthews, Hudson Stringer and Jordan Stringer.

She is also survived by a sister, Coy Williams of Thaxton; one brother, Paul Reed (Betty) of Verona; four sisters-in-law, Varnell Reed of Tupelo, Evon Reed of Okolona, Jo Ann Reed of Mooreville and Shirley Gillentine of New Orleans, and brother-in-law W.C. “Dub” Jones of Pontotoc. She was loved by numerous nieces and nephews near and far. 

Pallbearers are Patrick Collins, Nathaniel Wigginton, Tatum Collins, Chuck Foote, Jake Henderson, Matthew Henderson and Kage Heberling. Honorary—Todd Stringer and Andy Stringer and Kevin Gillentine.

Funeral service will be at 11 a.m. on Thursday, February 4, at Lee Memorial Funeral Home in Verona. Mask and social distancing are required. Interment will be at Tupelo Memorial Park. Visitation will be held on Wednesday February 3 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Lee Memorial.

Memorials may be made to North Mississippi Methodist Senior Services Sunday Fund at P.O. Box 1567, Tupelo, MS 38801.

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Funeral Service

Thursday, February 4, 2021
11:00 AM

Lee Memorial Funeral Home

5257 Raymond Avenue
Tupelo, Mississippi 38879

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