Shirley was born to Alma (nee Madsen) and Verge Dow in San Francisco, California on June 10, 1936. After the end of WWII, the Dow family moved to Rogue River, Oregon where she graduated from high school. She always considered herself to be an Oregonian; this was reinforced when she earned BA and MA degrees in Physics from Oregon State University.
Her first teaching position was at the Yakima Valley Junior College in the state of Washington. After a couple years, she went on to Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan for additional graduate work in physics and a part-time teaching appointment. She left Wayne State in January 1963 for a position as an Assistant Professor in the Physics Department of (what is now) the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She was on the faculty here until her retirement in 2000. At UW-W she did a lot of work with prospective elementary teachers in a physics class emphasizing hands-on, activity-oriented science instruction. Shirley also developed and taught a popular course: Physics of Sound & Music. In 2000, She received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Association of Physics Teachers.
At Whitewater, in 1965 Shirley met a newly hired physics instructor, Frank Stekel. After working together for several years, they were married in August 1967. They were still working together right up to the present time.
After retirement, Shirley became a Master Gardener. She had a special interest in prairies and was a volunteer at Rotary Gardens in Janesville in the presentation of programs for elementary school students. Shirley loved nature, animals (especially cats) and travel.
She was preceded in death by parents as well as her daughter, Sharon, in January 2017.
She is survived by her husband, Frank D. Stekel of Fort Atkinson; daughter, Sandra and husband, Tim Schmidt, of Bristol; brother, Wayne, of North Granby, Connecticut; sister, GeRee’ Lane, of Jacksonville, Oregon; brother-in-law & sister-in-law, Joe and Carol Stekel of Bangor; special friends, Virginia Epps and Karen Helwig, both of Whitewater; other relatives and friends as well as her fellow Rotary Gardens volunteers,
Burial will be in the Cold Spring Union Cemetery next to her daughter, Sharon. This family ceremony and a memorial gathering will be held later this summer. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts are suggested to either the Jefferson County Humane Society or the Rotary Gardens of Janesville, WI.
The Nitardy Funeral Home, Whitewater, Wisconsin is assisting the family, www.nitardyfuneralhome.com.