EARLVILLE - Shirley Ruth (Fritsch) Bauer, 97, of Earlville, passed away peacefully in her home on Sept. 12, 2021.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18 at Earlville United Presbyterian Church with Pastor Del Keilman officiating. Visitation will be from 9 a.m. until the time of service at the church. Interment will be at the Earlville Precinct Cemetery. Funeral arrangements were entrusted to Hanley-Turner-Eighner Funeral Home, Earlville.
Pallbearers will be her grandsons Derek, Chad, Bryan, Robert, Christopher, Shane, Lars and Adam Bauer and Edward, Andrew and Noah Van Dorsten. Her other grandsons are Marc and Jeff Page. Honorary Pallbearers will be her granddaughters, Heather Bauer Boston, Indya Bauer, Beth Bauer Grace, Demrhy Youngquist, Lori Van Dorsten and Jennifer Bauer. Her other granddaughters are Angela Butts Schiller and Jill Page.
Shirley was born March 23, 1924, on the Fritsch family homestead farm in Sandwich to George Augusta “Boy” Fritsch and Ruth Amelia (Otto) Fritsch. She married Paul Wilbur Bauer on Feb. 14, 1947. He preceded her in death.
Survivors include two sons, Dr. Bruce Alan Bauer (Dr. Jane Matison) and Michael Dean Bauer (Linda Gilberston), all of Earlville; 21 grandchildren; 34 great-grandchildren; one great-great-granddaughter; and her loving caregiver, Nancy (Tim) Bidstrup.
She was preceded in death by her husband; two sons, Ray Paul Bauer (Deborah Butts) and John Lee Bauer (Chris Donovan); three brothers, Wiley (Eva) Martin Fritsch, Russel (Carol) R. Fritsch and Lyle (Eleanor) George Fritsch; and one sister, Helen Virginia Fritsch (Jesse) Johnson.
Shirley attended grade school at the Sandy Bluff Country School, just a walk down the road from her home. Her family home and the grade school remain in the family’s possession. In 1941, she graduated from Sandwich High School and then attended Metropolitan Business College in Aurora. Upon completion of college, she entered into employment with Richard Wilcox Manufacturing Company, Aurora as a secretary. Soon after graduation, Shirley met Paul, son of Alphons Bauer and Josephine (Aubrey) Bauer, at the Fairway Roller Rink in Sandwich. Soon after that meeting they were married at the Federated Church in Sandwich and chose Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 1947 to wed. The couple purchased a farm where they raised their four sons.
A sports enthusiast, Shirley played for the Earlville Victorians Softball Team as a young woman. Later, she and her husband coached Little League, operated the concession stand, maintained the ball diamond, kept the scorebooks, and generally served as the Lion’s Club baseball managers maintaining baseball play in Earlville for many years. She enjoyed all professional sports but none more than the Chicago Bulls during the Michael Jordan years. She was a champion league bowler in Earlville and Sandwich into her 90s. In 1970, she developed the lifelong skill and passion of golf enjoying it until she was 90. She traveled to many places to play golf earning every prize imaginable. She also was able to follow her son, John, who held a PGA Card, in tournaments. John’s daughter, Beth, was a championship junior golfer, an NCAA Women’s Champion Golfer, and an LPGA rookie of the year. Shirley was able to follow Beth to many tournaments around the world. She was also an avid card player all of her life with Bridge, Euchre, and Cribbage at the top of her list. She recreated in many places but her favorites were Hawaii and Squaw Lake, Minn., where she could feel the wind and sun against her cheeks and the sand between her toes.
Shirley retired as a rural mail carrier for the U.S. Post Office, however, she held many jobs throughout her life. She continuously worked on the farm assisting her husband, raising broiler chickens and popcorn to sell, operating an egg factory, and working seasonally at the Ho-Ka Turkey Farms. She was employed at the Earlville Kor-Cheese Plant and Marathon Electric Plant prior to becoming a mail carrier.
A storyteller and strong presence on every occasion, Shirley made conversation and friends with everyone around her. Her later years were spent researching her own family history and those of fellow families she encountered along her life’s journey. Ever curious, she spent the last years of her life asking questions in which her great-granddaughter, Alexis, would inevitably just google for her. She remained inquisitive to the end. For many years, Shirley’s loving caregiver, Nancy cared for her as if she were a family member and made it possible for Shirley to live out her last years in her own home, as was her wish.
Though her triumphs in life were spectacular, including climbing to the top of Ayers Rock, Uluru, Australia and Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, Oahu, Hawaii, they paled in comparison to what truly filled her heart with joy, which was time spent with family. She basked in the presence of her sons, but especially so in the midst of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Those moments completed her.
Memorials may be directed to the Earlville Community Historical Society. For more information or to sign the online guest book, please visit www.EighnerFuneralHomes.com.