Obituary for Shirley Anne Chance Manson

Zipping through most of her 90 years at 90 miles per hour, Shirley Anne Chance Manson allowed herself to hang up her tennis racquet at age 88 and her swimming cap two years later, just a few months before her death on March 21, 2023. Born to “Dolly” and Herschel Chance on November 11, 1932 in Blanchester, OH, and an only child, it was inevitable that Shirley would become the grammar police. Her father was the principal of Blanchester High while her mother was the English and Drama teacher. Shirley earned enough money lifeguarding each summer to pay for tuition to Bowling Green State University where she majored in English and Journalism and was an Alpha Xi Delta.

After graduation, Shirley got a job on Capitol Hill with a US representative from Ohio and was active in Young Republicans. In more recent years, she proudly proclaimed herself a libertarian. In the summer of 1961 in Rehoboth Beach, DE Shirley met a young lawyer named William E. Manson of Lebanon, NH, became engaged in December, and married five months later. Bill worked as a federal procurement officer for the US Department of the Navy, mostly writing contracts.

The couple bought a house near Spa Creek in Annapolis, MD and raised their three children, Blair, Celia and Neil, along with pets, in a fun and tightly connected neighborhood. The family was active at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Shirley was the consummate volunteer and an ever-encouraging mother, with a quick wit and memory like an elephant. Cheerful and outgoing, and seeming to know almost everyone in Annapolis, she co-wrote a social “gossip” column for The Evening Capital, where she worked for over 30 years. Her secret claim to fame was co-authoring “The Cheapskate’s Handbook.” Their Cheapskate’s Creed says, “On my honor I will strive to avoid paying full price for anything. I will smugly resist efforts by more (or less) affluent friends to induce me to keep up with the Joneses. I further promise to dedicate myself to the premise that anything worth doing is worth doing hurriedly.” Shirley was the ultimate fixer-upper, often with a project of wallpapering, painting, refinishing hardwood floors or furniture. She was a fixture at the Annapolis Racquet Club and Naval Academy Tennis Boosters. Shirley sang with the Annapolis Chorale and headed up numerous local political campaigns.

The Mansons were known for hosting countless lively crab feasts on their back porch for some of the most wonderful people. Both Shirley and Bill were extremely interesting and interested. They truly loved learning and getting to know all kinds of folks, not just those from one circle.

Some of the couple’s best friends were connected with the Ski Club of Washington DC, as Bill was an avid skier. One memorable club trip was to the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. Through the years these families visited each other from Colorado to Connecticut. In retirement the couples enjoyed fabulous adventures like a river cruise down the Rhine or Grand Canyon sightseeing. 

Shirley and Bill found the perfect fit when moving to Heritage Harbour in 2005. She immediately made great new friends while playing tennis, swimming and walking. An avid reader, Shirley was in several book clubs. Visits to and from grandchildren Benjamin, Samuel and Sonia Stone were celebrated. She never missed an opportunity to regale friends proudly with stories about her amazing children, grandchildren and best son-in-law, Rocky Stone.

Seven years after Bill died, in October 2020 Shirley moved to Tarboro, NC, quickly joined Calvary Church and eventually led monthly town tours for new residents at The Albemarle. In the midst of COVID, she managed to escape for long walks throughout beautiful, historic downtown Tarboro.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Calvary Episcopal Church 411 East Church Street Tarboro, NC 27886 or to Farmville Presbyterian Church 4138 Grimmersburg St. Farmville, NC 27828.  The family plans to visit with friends from Calvary and The Albemarle at the auditorium of The Albemarle on Saturday, April 1 from 2:30-3:30. Farmville friends are welcome to visit at the Stone home on Sunday, April 2 from 3:00 to 5:00. Shirley requested that 1 Corinthians 15:54b-57 be read at her private funeral and that her ashes be spread in the shape of a cross.  “’Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 thoughts on “Obituary for Shirley Anne Chance Manson

  1. Such a great lady in every way.. I enjoyed reading about her life so much. It’s so inspiring and I wish I could have known your mom better. She will live on in your heart and memories for always

  2. Leigh Divine (Treffer) Gruber March 29, 2023 — 8:37 pm

    Dear Celia – over the years I’ve wondered what became of you. I’ve run into many of my former Bates math students (or those occupying a seat in my classroom) since I’m still in the area. Now I see with your lovely blog that I might learn quite a bit if I find the time to read it.

    I saw your mother’s obituary in the Capital. What a lovely piece of writing for a lovely lady. I didn’t really know her, I had just met her numbers of times as she was around the school in support of you and the school programs I imagine.

    I am so very sorry for your loss. I lost my mother just over a year ago and the hole in my heart doesn’t seem to get smaller. I wish you peace and with God’s and your family’s help I hope you keep the treasured memories of good times close during the sad times.

    Leigh Gruber
    (Your 7th grade math teacher)

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