Obituary – Shirley Jean Pharo

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Published Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Shirley Jean Pharo

October 6, 1929 - December 26, 2021

Born the only child of Ed and Dorothy Kimmel October 6, 1929, in Arapahoe, Shirley Jean Pharo grew up tough, as all children of the Depression and Dust Bowl era did. After enjoying 92 blessed years on this earth, she went peacefully to be with Jesus n December 26, 2021. It was a glorious day for her!

Although Shirley had no siblings, she was blessed to grow up as one of the older of 62 cousins, her mother having come from a very large family. Having experienced the joy of a large extended family, her heart's desire was always to be a wife and mother.

Shirley was born in an adobe house on the edge of the small town of Arapahoe, where she lived until she was three years old. At that time, she moved with her parents to a farm 13 miles northwest of Arapahoe. One of her earliest memories was of the chaos of moving day, and someone noticed her standing there wondering what was going on. He handed her little red rocking chair to her, and she lifted it up to someone standing on the back of the truck. She felt so big! That special chair has now found a home in the home of her youngest great-grandchild.

When Shirley was in first grade, the family moved to a nearby farm that, except for a few years during college and early marriage, would be her home until 2008. Many great times were had by her and her children in the buildings, trees, yard, and house of this home place.  In 2008 she decided the farm was too much work and moved to Burlington. 

She attended Arapahoe Consolidated School from first grade through high school graduation. 

After graduating in 1947, Shirley attended business school in Denver for a year and then moved on to Colorado A&M (currently Colorado State University) in Ft. Collins. While there, she met a handsome young man at a dance. One thing led to another, and before long, on December 20, 1950, she became Mrs. Alan C. Pharo. Alan had been born and raised in Denver, but always dreamed of living on a ranch. After graduation, they lived briefly in Hot Sulphur Springs, then Steamboat Springs, where Alan worked on a ranch. They welcomed their first son, Kit Dillon, to their family in June of 1952.

In the spring of 1954, just as the next siege of dirt storms was beginning, they had the opportunity to move back to the home place northwest of Arapahoe. Shirley wasn't sure she wanted to move, as she had already experienced one decade of terrible dirt storms, but she agreed to try it. Their second son, Brett Alan, came soon after they arrived, in March 1954. Alan was soon offered a job with the Soil Conservation Service, which allowed them a source of income when the farm and ranch struggled. Brett was followed by a third son, Scott Barry, in July of 1955. Sadly, Scott was taken in an accident in September 1956. His loss left a huge hole in Shirley's life, even though they went on to have three more children. Kevin Paul joined the family in October 1957, Kathy Lynn in October of 1959, and Jennifer Sue was the "caboose" of the family in May 1963.

With Alan working a full-time job in Cheyenne Wells, Shirley was largely responsible for tending to the needs of their growing cattle herd, as well as maintaining the home, raising a large garden, and freezing or canning its produce, and making most of the family's clothes. However, her days as a stay-at-home mom were limited, as the Soil Conservation Service wanted Alan to transfer across the state shortly after they built a new house in 1964. Rather than uproot the family, Shirley took a job teaching first and second grades in Arapahoe and began the process of obtaining her teaching certificate via correspondence courses. Alan took over all the farm and ranch duties. 

Shirley taught first and second grades for ten years, then moved "upstairs" to teach Junior High and High School home economics classes. Through her 12-year teaching career, Shirley touched many lives, and is fondly remembered by many students and fellow teachers. Some situations presented huge obstacles, but she always approached them with a "can do" attitude and never gave up on a single student.

Shirley retired in 1978, and they sold the cow herd in 1985, freeing them up to travel across the country with their RV. They traveled across the nation, visiting friends and family, as well as enjoying rafting down the Grand Canyon, taking a paddle boat cruise down the Mississippi River, and taking an Alaskan cruise. Shirley also took up the hobby of quilting. Everywhere she went, she bought pretty fabrics, which she then used to make a multitude of beautiful quilts to give as gifts to many special people in her life. She loved to give of her bounty.

Shirley never met anyone she didn't like, and she found that everyone had an interesting story.

Alan left her a widow unexpectedly in April 1999. She stayed on the farm for another nine years, but opted to move to Burlington in December of 2008. After moving to Burlington, she made many new friends and continued to touch many lives.

In June 2017, while on a visit to her daughter Jenni's in Enid, Oklahoma, she made the statement that, "Once in their life, everyone ought to live where there are trees and water!" And just three months later, she made the move to take up residence in the Golden Oaks Retirement Community in Enid. This move afforded her the opportunity to make many new friends and be a blessing in so many lives. It was there, in the Golden Oaks Retirement Community, that she breathed her final breath.

Leaving behind to remember and celebrate her life are her five children Kit (Deanna) Pharo of Cheyenne Wells, Brett (Debra) Pharo of Rapid City, Michigan, Kevin Pharo of Sterling, Kathy (Rod) Pelton of Cheyenne Wells, and Jennifer (Warren) McConnell of Lahoma, Oklahoma. Also carrying on her legacy are twelve grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren.

Shirley was preceded in death by her parents; husband; son, Scott; and grandson, Trapper.

In lieu of flowers, the family would welcome contributions to the Shirley Pharo Memorial Fund in care of any Eastern Colorado Bank.

A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, January 1, 2022, at 10:30 a.m. in the Community Building in Cheyenne Wells

Arrangements are under the direction of Brown Funeral Home. may earn an affiliate commission if you purchase products or services through links in an article. Prices, when displayed, are accurate at the time of publication but may change over time. Commissions do not influence editorial independence.

The Kiowa County Press is an independent newspaper published in Eads, Kiowa County, Colorado, and to the world at