Shirley Jean (Newnum) Marshall Profile Photo
1932 Jean 2024

Shirley Jean (Newnum) Marshall

December 30, 1932 — February 29, 2024

Zionsville, IN

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the Earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! 

Come into His presence with singing!” – Psalm 100:1–2


Heaven gained a new Director of Music on February 29, 2024, when Shirley Marshall arrived after 91 years on Earth. Shirley spent her last days surrounded by, and laughing with, many of the loves of her life, finally joining her dearest love—her husband, Jim Marshall—after a brief separation occasioned by Jim’s 2021 passing. The fact that no one was ready to say goodbye to Shirley is a testament to the joy she sprinkled everywhere. Her spirit is a song that may never stop playing in the hearts of her family, friends, and former students. 


Shirley proudly embraced her many titles in life, beginning with eldest daughter of Fred and Evelyn Newnum and sister to Margaret Ann Sheffer and Marilyn Willoughby. She became a wife at 19, a mother at 21, a college graduate and music teacher at 34, a grandmother at 48, and a great-grandmother at 80. But none of those cherished titles—including her Master of Music Education or membership in the “State Farm Family”—ever eclipsed her identity as a daughter of the Lord. Shirley stood daily on the solid rock of Christ, devoted years of service to the United Methodist Church, and fearlessly shared with all her pure belief that God has a plan for everyone. Shirley did not hesitate to tell others that she considered it a choice to view the highs and lows alike as “God things.” She walked a path of principle and was rewarded with nine decades rich in adventure.


No matter the circumstances, Shirley was determined to be happy. A child of the Great Depression, she was as grateful for her Zionsville house on a hill as she was for her newlywed “married student housing” trailer at Indiana University. Her Passport was as full as her cabinet of jigsaw puzzles, but a simple countryside drive never lost its luster for her. A bologna sandwich or Culver’s concrete with Heath bar and strawberries made her smile, as did the Indianapolis Colts and the Indiana Hoosiers (when they won), domino tournaments, and any wildly creative game she could convince her family to play. Perhaps the one thing capable of wiping the grin off this diehard perfectionist’s face was making a mistake as she practiced the piano day in and day out. Those moments, of course, were rare. Shirley was unfailingly positive when others were not, and everyone took notice. Better yet, she shared her talent and presence freely. Whenever she could, she arranged music, accompanied vocalists, directed and sang in ensembles, and delighted audiences as half of a “four-hand piano duet.” She was nothing short of a treasure.


In the autumn of her life, Shirley dove into writing her memoir, A Life Full of Blessings. Now in the hands of her editor/granddaughter, this collection of stories perfectly captures Shirley’s effervescence and grit. Shirley correctly viewed this writing exercise as an avenue for connection, and her family members are thankful that she made the time to share so many colorful tales. After all, her chosen readers—the Marshall family—are the ones who made her feel complete.


Carrying Shirley in their hearts forever, among others, are: her sisters; daughters Joni (Bob Mercer) and Nancy (Mark Englert); son Pete (Melanie); grandchildren Kate Mercer-Lawson (Cody Lawson), Megan Mercer, Jessica Englert (Seth Dearmin), Stephen Englert (Ali), and Elizabeth Englert Healy (Patrick Healy); and great-grandchildren Xander and Vivienne McCooe, James and Evelyn Englert, Liam Healy, and Henry Dearmin.


Shirley was laid to rest in a private graveside ceremony on March 2 and will be celebrated on a larger scale in the summer of 2024. The family welcomes memorial donations to benefit children’s music education through the Save the Music Foundation ( In remembering Shirley, may we recognize our many blessings and rejoice! 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Shirley Jean (Newnum) Marshall, please visit our flower store.


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