It’s a truly special person who passes away at the age of 91 and draws a packed house with standing room only at their funeral. Shirley Schneider was that kind of special person.
Usually, those who are fortunate enough to live into their 90s have mostly family to honor them because many, or all, of their friends have already passed on. But Shirley had friends of all ages.
Shirley was my neighbor in Deal Lake Tower. I would see her in the building often and at events in town. It seemed like everyone knew Shirley and everyone who knew her, loved her. Shirley was widely known in Asbury Park and Long Branch.
She would go to the Blue Swan Diner in Ocean Township with her family and they would take bets on how many people would come up to her and say hello. Her family learned early on that she wasn’t just their Shirley, they were sharing this special woman with an entire community.
I’m not really sure how everyone knew her. They just did.
Perhaps because Shirley was a true insider. She lived in Asbury Park from the age of ten.
She worked at Posh Den on the boardwalk in most recent years. And at Fort Monmouth back in the 1940s before raising her family. She also worked at her brother’s law firm in Long Branch.
It wasn’t very hard to get to know Shirley. All you had to do was meet her once and from that point on you felt like she was your friend. She somehow managed to leave her mark on your heart.
You would think that some of her popularity may have been due to her granddaughter, Jess Alaimo. A young activist, comedian, and writer in Asbury Park. But the truth is, most people who knew Shirley had no idea they were even related until this past week.
If you picked up a copy of last weeks Tri-City News you’ll find a loving tribute to Shirley under The Rainbow Room, written by her granddaughter Jess.
“She was a cool
Grandma, who loved happy hour.”Jess Alaimo
Shirley really was a cool lady and always up for having fun. One of the last things she did before falling ill just a few short weeks ago was join her granddaughter for her favorite pastime at Mix on Brighton Avenue.
Shirley passed away on March 30th, early Saturday morning. Her funeral was on Sunday. You would have thought an important dignitary had passed away.
Not only was I impressed by the amount of people in attendance. I was moved by the loving way her family spoke of her. It emulated the feeling of everyone in the room.
The stories they shared were funny, heartfelt, and full of love for a woman who gave her life and her love to the people in it, all of the people in it.
Shirley was very stylish; her outfit, hair, and make-up were always done to perfection. Even though her body had become frail as the years went by, her spirit remained sound. She was a confident woman who stood tall and proud, acting as if the walker that offered her support was just one of her fashion accessories.
If there’s anyone who had accomplished their mission in life, it’s Shirley Schneider. She gave to everyone what she wanted most. Love. And it came back to her tenfold.
I will miss seeing you Shirley. We’ll all miss you. Hopefully, we will all learn from you.
If you have a story about Shirley, or something you just want to say, please share it here. We’d love to hear it.