Where do you want to fly?
Editor’s note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail runs “A Life Remembered.” Each story in this continuing series takes a look back — through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others — at a member of the community who died recently. Today’s “A Life Remembered” is about Shelby Andrews, who died Dec. 10 at the age of 81. Her obituary was published in the Dec. 13 edition of The Herald-Mail.
Like many of her generation, Shelby Andrews found what she needed in the county where she grew up. She grew up in Funkstown, and Shelby’s family moved to 230 Frederick St. in Hagerstown when she was 11.
It was from that home that she walked up the hill to Washington County Hospital for nursing school after graduating from Hagerstown High School in 1955.
Shelby’s 42-year nursing career at Washington County Hospital began in 1958, where she started out as a medical surgical nurse on 2 East and became a charge nurse.
Daughter Michelle Semler of Greencastle, Pa., said her mom worked with a “good bunch of ladies,” who enjoyed Christmas parties and monthly Wednesday morning breakfasts together.
She didn’t “pull any punches” with the nurses she trained and they might have been intimidated by her initially, but in the end became friends with her, Michelle said.
Shelby lived with her parents in the Frederick Street home until Feb. 2010. She had a boyfriend and they had talked of marriage, but he ended up marrying someone else.
She learned she was pregnant and gave birth to Michelle when she was 32. Shelby raised her daughter as a single mom with her parents’ help.
The youngest of William Preston “Press” and Gladys Andrews’ children, Shelby had a brother and sister who were stillborn and a brother who died when he was young.
She was raised with a brother Richard “Dick” Andrews, who died of a heart attack at age 47, and sister Wanda “Jenny” Mahone, who was the oldest. Shelby helped Jenny, who lived across the street, take care of her four daughters.
Both parents worked at Fairchild Aircraft.
Shelby also cared for her parents during their final years. Her father died of a stroke in 1972, and her mother died in 1973.
Michelle recalls a time when her mother came to the aid of her and a friend when they were in about eighth grade. They were walking in the March of Dimes Walkathon on a hot Sunday afternoon.
They got so sunburned and Michelle’s friend Leslie couldn’t walk because of blisters on her feet, so Shelby carried Leslie to the car.
“Other than being a very caring, giving person, she never complained of anything she had to do, but she could have a temper. She didn’t have a filter and it got worse with time,” Michelle said.
When Michelle learned she was pregnant at 17, she worried about her mother’s reaction to the news. Strategically, she told her when Shelby was taking a bath, so she wouldn’t be able to easily chase after her.
Shelby cried when she heard the news, but went with Michelle to all of her doctor’s appointments.
“No matter how many times I messed up or how bad, she was always there. It was unconditional love for me and my kids,” Michelle said.
Michelle was two weeks shy of her 18th birthday when she gave birth to Sarah. Michelle lived with Shelby, who retired in 2000 not long after and helped take care of Sarah.
“Her grandkids, she was just there. She’s always been there,” said Hannah Copenhaver of Waynesboro, Pa., the middle of Michelle’s three daughters.
Retirement also allowed time for Shelby to volunteer as parish nurse at her church, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Funkstown, where she also helped with vacation Bible school and in the kitchen.
“She was definitely a faithful servant of her church. She definitely loved that church, and that was home,” Michelle said.
In early 2010, not long after Michelle got divorced, Shelby was given 30 days to vacate the Frederick Street house, which had been home for more than 60 years.
She lived with several family members until settling in Waynesboro.
Michelle has fond memories of living on Frederick Street, where the “big thing” was sitting out on lawn chairs on Friday and Saturday nights, eating buy-one-get-one banana splits from Dairy Queen.
“I always tell everybody I had the best childhood, just the things I got to do,” Michelle said.
Michelle was a student at South Hagerstown High School and a member of the indoor guard. She volunteered Shelby to help sew flags.
“She just about killed me, but she did it,” Michelle said.
Life wasn’t all work and no play. Michelle has fond memories of summer vacations to Stone Harbor, N.J., which they called “the seashore.”
Shelby bowled on Tuesday nights and played American Legion bingo on Wednesdays.
Friday nights were reserved for getting her hair done and catching up on the latest gossip at Helen’s House of Hair, a beauty shop in the alley behind Shelby’s house.
Bus trips to Las Vegas and to the riverboats in Charleston, S.C., to play penny slots were favorite pastimes.
“She was just something with those slots,” Michelle said.
Shelby also traveled to the Bahamas, Disney World, Vermont, Canada, Ocean City, Md., and Atlantic City.
An avid reader, Shelby belonged to the Doubleday Book Club.
She was also a longtime subscriber to The Herald-Mail and wherever she lived, she looked forward to the morning newspaper. Even when she was in the hospital, a friend brought the paper to her every day.
“She’d be tickled to be in her newspaper,” Michelle said.
Shelby’s morning routine also included local radio, listening to Lou Scally on WJEJ.
In the afternoon she watched “her stories,” including soap operas “The Young and the Restless,” “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “As the World Turns” and “Guiding Light,” recorded on the VCR if she wasn’t home to watch.
Some of Shelby’s favorite evening shows were along the same lines — “Dallas,” “Dynasty” and “Knots Landing.”
A big fan of the Washington Redskins and WWE wrestling, Shelby traveled to Hershey, Pa., to see big-name WWE competitors, then watched pay-per-view events when they got cheaper.
“She would get mad and yell and throw things at the TV if the Redskins were doing bad,” Michelle said.
But despite Shelby’s tough side, Hannah recalls a soft side to her grandmother.
“She had the best smile and the nicest hands,” Hannah said.
Michelle said her mother didn’t wear makeup, but still received compliments from fellow nurses on the shade of lipstick she was wearing.
About eight years before her January 2000 retirement, Shelby had a double knee replacement and quit smoking cold turkey before surgery.
She had also had back surgery and ended up with end-stage liver disease, even though Shelby didn’t drink, the result of medications she had taken for her surgeries.
In the end, Shelby was more concerned for her family’s well-being than her own, although Michelle said it was an honor to care for her.
“As a single parent, she was both a mother and father, and provided me with so much more than material things. She loved me unconditionally, was there each and every time I needed her no matter the time of day. … She is the ‘Wind Beneath My Wings,’” Michelle said.