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Shirley Thomas Garlati

June 22, 1922 ~ October 25, 2018 (age 96)

Shirley Thomas Garlati died peacefully surrounded by family on Thursday, October 25th, 2018, at the age of 96.  Born in Paterson, New Jersey on June 22, 1922, she lived in Marion for nearly sixty years and spent the last eight years in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  She was preceded in death by her husband, Emil V. Garlati, two sisters, Claire (Roderick) Kerr and Dorothy (Fred) Borne, and her oldest daughter, Sheryl Leslie Garlati, who left her much too early but remained her shining angel for the past 65 years.  She is survived by her four children, William (Marlie) Garlati, Janet (Robert) Kelley, Robert (Anita) Garlati, and Valerie Holley, seven grandchildren, Dr. Tally (Joseph) Foster, Emil Vincent (Laura) Garlati II, Emilie (Peter) Burns, Michael (Judy) Holley, Kyle Robert Holley, Kristin (Cameron) Eyman, and Matteson Mccinsey Garlati, and twelve great-grandchildren. 

Shirley was born during World War I, grew up during the Great Depression, and started a family just as her Marine Corps husband was shipped off to battle at Iwo Jima.  Having later endured the tragedy of losing little Sheryl to leukemia, she and Emil had a second generation of children in the fifties and sixties.  Shirley was very active in her children’s lives as chef, chauffer, housekeeper, medic and party planner.  She hosted dozens of cast parties for both Marion High School and Marion Civic Theatre productions. In fact, many of you are smiling right now thinking about the fun you had at her parties. She traveled with her children to New York most summers and introduced them to Broadway theatre, which remains a staple in all their lives. Shirley was a benefactor for dozens of local and national charities, including local women’s shelters, the Grant County Humane Society, the First United Methodist Church, the March of Dimes, the Leukemia Foundation, the Boys and Girls Club of Grant County, the Marines Toys for Tots, and both the YMCA and YWCA along with many others.  She was often known to fill grocery carts at Wal-Mart with food, diapers, dog food and other supplies which she delivered personally until she was no longer able to drive at age 89.  She was a huge Indiana Pacer fan and spent most nights from October through May watching them on television.  She was a league bowler at Plaza Bowl for 25 years, sporting a 160+ average. 

Shirley was best known for her effervescent smile, which never left her even in her declining years, and she always looked 20 years younger than her actual age.   She lived a full and wonderful life, outliving all her peers, and she has finally been blessed with the opportunity to be reunited with Eileen, Edith, Del and her sisters and cousins, along with Emil and Sheryl. 

Private family services were held in Marion with burial in the Estates of Serenity cemetery. 

Arrangements entrusted to Raven-Choate Funeral Home, 1202 W. Kem Road, Marion, Indiana.

The family requests that all memorials be made in the form of donations to the Grant County Animal Shelter and the Leukemia Research Foundation. 

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