OBITUARY: Shirley May Stites


Shirley May Stites, a beloved mother, grandmother, and friend, passed away on February 27, 2024, at NHC-Columbia.

Born on January 1, 1943, in Waukegan, Illinois, to the late Doyle Talley and Florence Johnson Watts, Shirley’s life was a testament to love, kindness, and unwavering dedication to her family.

Shirley was the epitome of a sweet and giving soul, known for her boundless generosity and warm heart. Her main focus in life was ensuring the well-being of her family, and she dedicated herself to providing them with love, support, and everything they needed. Her nurturing spirit and selflessness endeared her to all who had the privilege of knowing her.

A devout woman of faith, Shirley was an active member of St. Catherine’s Church, where she not only found solace in her spiritual journey but also actively participated in various women’s groups. Her commitment to her community and church reflected her deep-rooted values of compassion and service.

After the passing of her husband, Shirley embarked on a new chapter in her life, discovering the joy of travel. She explored different corners of the world, and one of her most cherished adventures was the visit to Rome and the Vatican. This experience allowed her to appreciate the beauty of diverse cultures and deepen her understanding of history and faith.

Shirley’s legacy lives on in the hearts of her family and friends. Her kindness, resilience, and the love she showered upon others will be remembered as a guiding light for generations to come. As we mourn the loss of a truly remarkable woman, let us also celebrate the rich tapestry of a life well-lived and the indelible mark she left on all who were fortunate enough to know her.

Shirley is survived by her children: Thomas Edward Stites, Jr. (Carolyn), Jeanne Marie Sandefur, David Michael Stites, Christopher Joseph Stites (Julianne), and Julie Lynn Spencer (Christopher); sister: Judy Lambie (Arlan); grandchildren: Joshua James Wolff, Alison Marie Styke (Quincy), Christopher Thomas Stites, Kevin Thomas Stites, Jacob Allen Briggs (Taylor), Zachary Storm Sandefur, Samantha Marie Sandefur, Michael David Stites, and Cameron Cartwright; greatgrandchildren: Quincy Neal and Vivian Alexandra Styke, Dean Allen and Ava Noelle Briggs, and Rowan Forest Wolff; and brother-in-law: Raymond J. Stites (Tracy).

Shirley is reunited with her husband of 42 years: Thomas Edward Stites, Sr.; parents: Doyle Talley and Florence Johnson Watts; siblings: Patricia Ann Quigley and Doyle “Butch” Talley.

A service for Shirley will be on Saturday, March 2, 2024 at 10:00 AM at St. Catherines Church in Columbia, Tennessee. The family will receive friends on Friday, March 1, 2024 from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Williams Funeral Home in Columbia, Tennessee. Shirley will be laid to rest next to her husband at Polk Memorial Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, family asks that donations be made to American Cancer Society.

Williams Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. Condolences can be given to the family at


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