Shirley Dworsky

Shirley Dworsky | 1926 - 2004

Shirley was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 14th, 1926. Her parents were Sam and Sylvia Shure (both immigrants from what is now Ukraine). Shirley grew up in the tight knit Jewish community of North Minneapolis, and was active in the religious and social life of the neighborhood synagogue, Mikro Kodesh, and the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis (religious and Hebrew school). Growing up during the Great Depression made a deep impression on her, shaped her character, and gave her sympathy and compassion for others throughout the rest of her life.

Shirley in 1941
The Shure family | circa early 1940s
Left to right: Esher, Anna, Sam, Sylvia, Shirley and Harold

After graduating North High School, she graduated from the U of MN Nursing School as a Registered Nurse and began working at the U of M Hospital. She continued practicing nursing until she and husband Bob had their first child in 1951. 

Shirley, Bob and baby Alan | Autumm 1951

Shirley’s parents were early supporters of the idea of a Jewish Homeland. When the State of Israel was created in 1948, Shirley became a lifelong supporter of many charitable organizations aiding the new nation. She was a member of Hadassah and served as the President of the St. Paul chapter. She also chaired the Women’s Division of the United Jewish Fund and Council and served on the Israeli Bonds Women’s Leadership Advisory Board.

Shirley often spent two to three months each year working with school children, the elderly, and the handicapped in Netanya, Naharia, and Tel Aviv, Israel.  Multiple generations of Jewish women considered her an inspiration and great role model for charitable activism.

Shirley was also a founding member of Parents for Integrated Education in the 1960s, a board member of several local theater, arts, and social action committees, and chaired the St. Paul English Tutoring Program for newcomers from the former Soviet Union.

Shirley at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, Israel
Shirley and cousin Sheldon at Gesher HaZiv Kibbutz, Israel
Volunteering at senior center in Israel
English tutor volunteer at Highland Park Jr. High.
English tutor volunteer at Highland Park Jr. High.

Shirley loved the arts, and she and Bob exposed the kids to music, theater, and Broadway shows from a young age. She had no special musical talent, but all of her children did, and music filled the house when they were around. They all chose interesting and creative careers; and Shirley was supportive and proud of all of them.

She was an avid reader but stubbornly refused to learn to use a computer or email; and preferred the rowboat to the speedboat at the lake cabin. Throughout her life she remained close with many of her friends that she grew up with in the old North Side Jewish community; and if she needed a consultation, whether about finances, a medical concern, or home repairs, she would call them first.

Though she lost her husband Bob when he was only 53 in 1978, Shirley spent the next 26 years of her life as a devoted mother, grandmother, friend to many, philanthropist, and much loved and cherished member of the community. In 2003, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. After a valiant fight against the disease, she passed away peacefully at home in 2004, surrounded by her family.

Shirley will be remembered for her generosity and hospitality. She hosted innumerable Shabbat dinners, Passover seders, charity fundraising parties, visiting Israeli goodwill representatives and out of town relatives, Rock band rehearsals, and more. You were always welcome at Shirley’s.

Shirley's Gallery

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