Shirley Phinney, 1923-2016

Published 10:17 am Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Memorial services for Shirley Arlene Comstock Phinney and Kenneth Paul Phinney of Albert Lea will be 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, at First Presbyterian Church. The Rev. Dwight Netzer will officiate. Friends may greet the family one hour prior to the service at the church. Online condolences are welcome at

Shirley died Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, at Thorne Crest Senior Living Community.

Shirley Phinney

Shirley Phinney

Shirley was born in Mitchell, South Dakota, on July 7, 1923, to Floyd and Lois Comstock. She attended country school until entering high school in Mitchell and graduated in 1941.She met her future husband, Ken, during a church outing when she was in eighth grade. She later said that she knew right away that he was the one for her. One of her fondest childhood memories was seeing the creation of Mount Rushmore over the course of several summers. Along with Shirley and some cousins, her grandmother took them out to the Black Hills, a trip that meant few paved roads and an overnight stay along the way. These trips were what started her lifelong love of the Black Hills. On one such trip, Ken had been invited to go along, and it was there that he proposed to Shirley.

Email newsletter signup

In January 1943, she joined Ken in Auburn, Alabama, where he was attending Naval Training School. They were married Jan. 30, 1943 in Auburn. They lived there as well as Memphis, Tennessee and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, before Ken was transferred to California. At that time, Shirley went back to Mitchell, where their first son, Michael, was born.

In 1947 the family moved to Rapid City, living in a two-room log home in Cleghorne Canyon. Their second son, Patrick, was born in Rapid City, South Dakota, in 1949. The family moved to Watertown, South Dakota, in 1956 and to Albert Lea in 1957, while Ken was employed with the Red Owl chain of grocery stores.

Shirley worked in clothing stores in Watertown and Albert Lea. Over time, she developed a fine eye for fashion and became a clothing and accessories buyer for Wallace’s Department Store in Albert Lea, traveling to Minneapolis and New York on behalf of the store.

After their boys left home, Ken and Shirley moved to Alden, where they lived on a small acreage and Ken fulfilled a dream of owning horses. She became a partner in an antique and crafts store in Alden,  The Calico Corner.

After retirement, they moved back to the Black Hills, where she worked at Mount Rushmore in the art gallery for six years. She made many friends who stayed in touch even after she no longer worked there. While living in Custer, she started a tradition of inviting friends to her home for Christmas get-togethers. The parties grew until they had to have several each season. She was always active in her churches and had a lifetime relationship with God.

Shirley is survived by son, Michael, and his wife, Julie, and their son, Matthew, and his wife, Jen, and their children Maeve and Liam; son, Patrick, and his wife, Linda, and their children Shannon and her husband, Joe Wheeler, and Casey and his wife, Amy, and their daughter, Samantha; sister, Donna; and numerous nephews and nieces.

Shirley and Ken will return to the Black Hills to be buried together in the National Cemetery in Sturgis.

Memorials preferred to First Presbyterian Church or te donor’s choice.