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PITTSBORO, N.C. — Shirley Yvonne Pendergast Horner, 85, a retired nurse, cherished mother and grandmother, died Thursday, Oct. 7, at Cambridge Hills Assisted Living after a period of declining health.
She is survived by her daughter, Shirley Belinda Horner Cooper (and husband Billy) of North Myrtle Beach, S.C., and son Bill Horner III (and wife Lee Ann) of Sanford, N.C., and three grandchildren — Zachary Horner (and wife Sarah) of Sanford, Addison Horner (and wife Charis) of Orlando, Florida, and Karis Horner of Holly Springs, N.C.
A memorial service will be held at a later date in Blue Rapids, Kansas.
Shirley was born Oct. 13, 1935, in Hanover, Kansas, to Naomi Roland Smith Pendergast and Howard Ackley Pendergast. She was preceded in death by her parents and by her siblings: Dorothy Smith Eckstein Lintz, Kenneth Lyle Smith, Opal Elaine Smith Gellinger, Ramona Smith King Flower, Bonnie Rae Smith Schilling and Jere Jerome Pendergast. She is survived by special nieces Janie Heinrichs and Karla Sue Adler of Nebraska, Verna Foley of Kansas and Karel Snell of Arizona, and special nephews Francis Flower of Kansas and Bobby Schilling of Nebraska.
Shirley was also preceded in death by her special friend Leon M. “Bud” Roach. Shirley and Bud — a Naval commander — dated while in the Navy and then reunited four decades later following his retirement in Las Vegas; they traveled together until his death in 2016.
After graduating from Marysville High School in 1953, at age 17, Shirley moved from Kansas to Tombstone, Arizona, to live with her beloved aunt and uncle — Jane and the Rev. George H. Pendergast. They moved shortly thereafter to La Jolla and then San Diego, California, where Shirley graduated as a Registered Nurse from Mercy College of Nursing in San Diego in 1957.
She served in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps from 1957-1961 as an officer, meeting her future husband, William (Bill) E. Horner Jr., when both were stationed in Portsmouth, Virginia. Bill Horner Jr. was chief disbursement officer on the U.S.S. Forrestal, an aircraft carrier.
They married in 1961 and moved to Bill’s hometown of Sanford and lived there until their divorce in 1972. As a child, Shirley worked briefly for The Marysville Advocate; after her marriage, she supported her husband and father-in-law Bill Horner Sr.’s work at The Sanford Herald, and her son’s career in newspapering. Bill III is the publisher and editor of the Chatham News + Record in N.C.
Shirley was a skilled nurse and worked in hospitals in Hanover and Marysville in Kansas and in Wilmington, N.C. She loved the adrenaline and excitement of the emergency department and played a role in the re-design of the emergency rooms at the hospitals in Marysville and Wilmington. She loved being a redhead and being “in charge,” as she would say, and even as dementia robbed her of some memories, she could diagnose an illness (and prescribe a fix) to just about any problem — medical or otherwise.
She was extremely popular among daughter Belinda and son Bill’s high school and college friends — many of whom, up until her death, remained in contact with her and had fond recollections of the parties Belinda and Bill (and Shirley) hosted at their home in Blue Rapids, Kansas.
Shirley loved to laugh and made friends easily; as a consequence, her passing is a huge loss for those who loved her — but those she’s left behind possess wonderful memories and stories from time spent in her presence.
In lieu of flowers memorial donations can be made to Community Hospice, 108 Village Lake Rd Bldg. 1, Siler City, NC 27344.
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