Shirley Jane (Crooks) Pence, age 97 of New Bethlehem, was born in Distant, Armstrong County, on March 8, 1925, to Clyde and Orie Bowser Crooks. She passed away of natural causes at Edgewood Heights in New Bethlehem on Sunday morning, April 10, 2022.
At a very young age, she had a deep appreciation for family such as aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins, as she was an only child. Living her life to the fullest meant intentionally developing meaningful relationships with family, working hard, having adventures through travel and giving generously to her children and grandchildren. Shirley was proud to say she had been in every state in the union, every country in Europe and every province in Canada.
After graduating from New Bethlehem High School in 1943, Shirley set off to work for Bell Aircraft, in Buffalo, New York as an electrician during World War II. During her employment there she was asked to play on the company’s all women’s softball team. Shirley often spoke of her talents as a short stop and a pitcher.
She returned home to wed Vern Pence February 11, 1945, and together the couple began to form a legacy of entrepreneurialism. They resided in Springside and worked together to build the Ritchie Bus Company.
The couple had four children; Christopher Pence married to Linda Shoup; Clyde Pence married to Arleen Shreckengost; Curt Pence married to Sherry Cassaboom, and Penny (Pence) Neely married to William “Bud” Neely.
While raising her family some of her many jobs included bookkeeper, school bus driver, soda jerk, milk truck driver, night nurse, and delivery driver for H & R Block. Shirley was the owner of several successful businesses: The first soft serve custard stand in the area, selling mobile homes, owning and operating three rest homes; Crooks Home in New Bethlehem, Pence Retreat in Brookville and Laurel Haven in Brookville. As her last business endeavor, Shirley purchased a restaurant/bar called the Honey Tree in Ford City.
Shirley had a desire to keep her family together and did so through the building of a beautiful home on the Allegheny River. The river front property has been a gathering place for family and friends for over 50 years.
In 1975 she retired and bought a home in Sarasota, Florida and loved being a snowbird because she had the best of both worlds.
Shirley is survived by twelve grandchildren, thirty great grandchildren and four great great grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, her youngest son, Curtis Howard Pence, who lost his life in a boating accident on April 18, 1973, and a granddaughter, Jamie (Minich) Merritt as well as a great granddaughter, Julia Dawn Merritt.
Family and friends will be received from 6 to 8 pm, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, at the Rupert Funeral Home and Cremation Service chapel, 233 Penn Street, New Bethlehem.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, April 14, 2022, in the funeral home chapel with Reverend Jimmy Swogger officiating.
Interment will follow in the Oakland Cemetery in Distant.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Edgewood Heights “Porch Project,” 612 Keck Avenue, New Bethlehem, PA 16242
Online condolences may be sent to Shirley’s family at www.rupertfuneralhomes.com
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Shirley Jane (Crooks) Pence, please visit our floral store.
Edgewood Height-Porch Project
612 Keck Avenue, New Bethlehem, PA 16242