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Shirley Frances McCalla Calkins

April 23, 1921 - May 26, 2007

The Norman Transcript
May 27, 2007

Shirley F. Calkins, 86, died Saturday, May 26, in Norman.

Services for Mrs. Calkins are pending with Primrose Funeral Service.

Mrs. Calkins was born April 23, 1921, in Oklahoma City.

The Norman Transcript
June 19, 2007

A memorial service to celebrate the life of Shirley Frances McCalla Calkins will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, June 29, at the First Christian Church in Norman, 220 S. Webster Ave. At the age of 86, she lost her second battle with cancer. She died on Saturday, May 26 in Norman. Cremation followed under the direction of Primrose Funeral Service.

Mrs. Calkins was an instructor in the Oklahoma public schools system for 32 years. Her teaching career began in 1948 at Britton and Putnum City. She taught art classes at Russell Dougherty in Edmond. In Norman, she taught English at Central Junior High before she became the first art teacher for West Junior High. In 1963, she replaced Alice Fleming as the art teacher for Norman High School and was instrumental in the establishment of "Young Talent of Oklahoma," a state-wide high school arts competition. She was named Teacher of The Year in 1973.

As an artist in her own right, she was accomplished in a variety of media: watercolor, oil, acrylic, pastel, batik, wood block printing, silk screen and clay sculpture to name a few. Diversity was the hallmark of her impressionistic style. Her paintings won several Best-in-Show recognitions and were displayed over the years in Oklahoma, northern Virginia and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. She served as State Art Chairwoman several times for the National League of American Pen Women. She also was a member of the Norman Art League and a charter member of the Women-in-the-Arts Museum in Washington, D.C.

Shirley was born April 23, 1921 in Oklahoma City, the only child of Bula Clinton Young and John Calvin "Jack" McCalla, a master sergeant for the 45th Division of the Oklahoma National Guard. In later years, the family moved to Edmond where she graduated high school in 1939.

Majoring in art and education, she graduated in 1943 from Central State College (now UCO) in Edmond. During World War II, a community project was launched to build a student-created interdenominational chapel on the campus. Through her college years, Shirley designed nine of the fourteen stained glass windows for the Y-Chapel of Song, a place that was listed on the National Register of Historic Sites in July 2001. Throughout her adult life, the chapel remained her most cherished achievement and memory.

In 1944, she married Robert L. Dillon of Liberty, MO. Their union produced one child, but ended in divorce.

In 1950, she married Charles J Calkins of Edmond, who legally adopted her daughter. They transferred to Norman with the Oklahoma National Guard in 1955 and became active members of the First Christian Church. Shirley earned a masters degree in education at the University of Oklahoma.

Her parents, her husbands, and infant twin daughters Johnna and Frances Calkins preceded her in death.

She is survived by her daughter Cynthia Calkins Baker and son-in-law Jimmy of Norman; three granddaughters Amy Baker Watt and husband Gregg, Norman; Desha Baker Lang and husband Jon, Thornton, CO; Leigh Baker Loder and husband Blaine, Denver, CO, and great-grandson Gryphon Patrick Baker Watt of Norman.

In her lifetime, Mrs. Calkins inspired the minds and enriched the spirits of many people. She is well remembered for her charisma, creativity, charity and courage by those who knew and loved her.

The family suggests contributions to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 2600 Network Blvd, Ste 300, Frisco, TX 75034 or to a favorite charity.

~Submitted by family~

Sharing Memories of Dorothy Gregg Allmon
e-mail to Peggy Smith


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