Shirley Anne Wehmeier was born in Chicago, Illinois on October 5th 1921, the only daughter of Dorothy and Hugo Wehmeier. Following completion of high school at the University of Chicago Laboratory School, she attended the University of Indiana where she received a BA in history and psychology. She enrolled in the Masters Program for Fine Arts at Northwestern, but put this on hold after her marriage to Richard Herman in 1947. Her only child came into her life in 1951.
She became increasingly interested in theology and entered the Chicago Theological Seminary in 1965 as one of its few women scholars. She completed her Masters of Divinity in 1968 and was ordained in the United Church of Christ the same year. Shirley subsequently enjoyed a gratifying and highly successful career as a clinical pastoral education supervisor. After ordination, she worked as a Chaplain at the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, the noted Swiss-American psychiatrist, during the early development of our psychosocial understanding of death and dying. Shirley was one of only a handful of women who was certified as a Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor with the ACPE.
In 1973, she married Reverend William E. Wilcox and continued her career as an ACPE supervisor in a number of Chicago area hospitals and long-term care settings.
In 1986, she and her husband relocated to Cape Cod, where she was invited to become the Associate ACPE Supervisor with Dr. Phil King at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She held this position until her retirement in 1990.
Returning to Cape Cod, she worked as a volunteer leading discussion groups on behalf of Compassion and Choices, a national group advocating for education on expanding end-of-life options for all persons. Additionally, Shirley assumed the directorship of the Alzheimer’s Association of Cape Cod.
Subsequently, she and her husband moved to Falmouth so they could attend the Messiah Episcopal Church in Woods Hole before becoming residents at Linden Ponds, an Erickson retirement community in Hingham, MA. She was active in the Great Books and discussion groups at Linden Ponds.
Shirley was preceded in death by her brother, Hugo C. Wehmeier of Flossmoor, Illinois. She is survived by her husband Rev. William E. Wilcox of Hingham, MA and her daughter Carla J. Herman, MD of Albuquerque, NM, her four stepdaughters: Deborah Knapp of Ellicott City, MD, Laura Wilcox of St Paul, MN, Cheryl Goldsmith of Owings Mills MD, and Sandra Ahmed of Perry Hall, MD and their families, and four nephews: Paul, William, Thomas and Robert Wehmeier and their families of Chicago, Illinois.
The family wishes to thank all the wonderful staff at the Memory Care Unit at Linden Ponds and the staff of Beacon Hospice who provided loving care to her these past seven years.
Per her wishes, she was cremated with her ashes being buried in the Memorial Garden of Church of the Messiah located in Woods Hole, Cape Cod, MA.
A church service is to be planned for a later date.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Shirley Herman Wilcox, please visit our floral store.