Shirley May Abbott Fitzsimmons

Date of Birth

May 4, 1920

Date of Death

August 14, 2009

City of Death

Santa Barbara

Shirley Abbott was born May 4, 1920 in Gloversville, New York, the only daughter of Edwin W. and Alice (Lewis) Abbott with an older brother, James, and a younger brother, George. Shirley came from a musical family. Her father played violin and French horn, and her brother, George played trumpet. Although she did not play an instrument, she enjoyed music throughout her life. In school she participated in choir and theater, wrote for the school newspaper and the year book, and was president of the honor society.

During World War II, while Shirley’s brothers served in the military, she supported her widowed mother and sewed gloves for the Air Force as her contribution to the war effort. After the war, Shirley married Robert E. (Bob) Fitzsimmons, a native of Gloversville in 1948, and two daughters were born. She liked to work in the yard, and can vegetables from the garden, but her primary focus was the care of her daughters. In 1957, Bob and Shirley, their daughters and Shirley’s mother relocated to El Cajon, California. where Bob worked in the auto parts business and owned several parts stores. Added to Shirl’s homemaking duties was helping with bookkeeping at Bob’s auto parts stores.

Feeling music was important in everyone’s life, she made certain that her daughters took music lessons, and she always had music playing at home. Excursions to musical events were a family affair. Shirley especially loved musicals such as Camelot, and My Fair Lady. She had all the albums from the popular musicals of the day and knew the words by heart. She also loved theater and enjoyed the Shakespear productions at Balboa Park in San Diego. Bird watching was also a hobby and Shirley could identify most of the birds in her yard, and she loved animals. There was always a dog in her home. Sewing was also something Shirl taught her daughters and together they made many of their school clothes, and Shirley made their prom and wedding dresses. Enduring many hours of driving practice, Shirl taught her daughters to drive, and celebrated when they passed their tests. Shirley was always involved in her daughters school and never missed anything in which her girls were involved. When two granddaughters were born Shirley could not have been happier, and she was a big part of their lives. Shirley and Bob traveled across the U.S., and to Hawaii, Alaska, Mexico, and Italy. In 2000, Bob and Shirley relocated to Santa Barbara to live with their daughter and son in law where Shirl continued bird watching, reading and gardening.

Shirl, Mom, Grandma will be greatly missed and lovingly remembered by her family. She will always be remembered for her love of See’s Candies and desserts, and her great love and concern for her family. Shirley is survived by two daughters, Cheryl Jensen and husband, Gary of Santa Barbara, CA and Jill Wylie and husband, Robert of Tehachapi, CA; two granddaughters, Jessica Laine and Cameo Martin, great grandson, Aiden Kosling, and several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband, Bob, and two brothers, James and George.

Services and interment will be at the gravesite at El Cajon Cemetery, 2080 Dehesa Road, El Cajon, California on Friday, August 28 at 3:00 p.m. with a reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Santa Barbara Humane Society, 5399 Overpass Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93111 in remembrance of Shirley.


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