Shirley F. Aggas (Scott), 82, died peacefully at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 16 at Hospice House in Bellingham.
She was born in Mankato, Minnesota on May 11, 1928 to Chauncey A. Fowles and Irene Polchow. Shirley graduated from Mankato High School in 1946 and attended Mankato Teachers College, studying business administration and botany.
She also met and later married Sumner T. Scott on Dec. 30, 1949. They have six children together. During the 1950s Shirley raised children and developed an art business, painting and teaching ceramics, inspired by her friend Pearl Scott.
In 1959 Shirley moved to Los Angeles, Calif. with six children to start a new life from where she had grown up. She became an executive secretary, beginning with a secretarial position in the geology department at California State. This is where she met Bob Aggas, with whom she would develop a love, partnership and later marry. Over the years Shirley continued to work as an executive secretary for Signal Oil, Hancock, and a California state bureaucrat.
It was in 1968 that Bob and Shirley made a visitation trip to the San Juan Islands, where they fell in love with Orcas and the idea of a self-sustaining life. On May 23, 1970 Bob and Shirley married and then moved everybody to Orcas, with the help of Sumner. Everybody’s life changed for the better. Shirley raised a huge garden and with the help of everyone canned, froze and stored food to sustain the family over the winter. Bob provided salmon, as he was a gillnet fisherman as well as a geologist. Shirley also worked as secretary at Nellie S. Milton School on Orcas, as well as Dana McBarron on Lopez, which she loved. She planted a strawberry field on her property and had a small business with Rich Willis, and sold Waldron strawberries for Fred Adams.
It was in the later 1970s that Shirley went back to her love of art and ceramics and opened Beaverhouse, a shop in the front end of her home on North Beach Rd. She sold hand-painted tiles, Swedish wedding plates, bean pots and a variety of molded clay pots for cooking. Her business was thriving until she suffered a brain aneurysm in November 1979. Shirley came through this experience like a miracle. Islanders believed in her and carried her to rally herself. She did, and started her life over again.
During the next 10 years Shirley regained her strength and what really mattered to her: her garden. This is where she remembered who she was and was brought back to life as if normal. In the ensuing years after Bob passed away in June 1999, Shirley continued to live independently with the love and care of her children on Orcas until she had to leave the island in July 2008. At 80, Shirley was diagnosed with cancer and given three to four weeks to live. Her eldest daughter Nancy took her to live with her until April 10, 2011 when Shirley went to the hospital and then hospice nearly three years later.
Shirley was a woman who possessed a huge spirit of friendship, nobility and strength. She was a gardener by birthright. Her intelligence gave her the ability to be self-taught in many subjects and she shared her knowledge readily. Her latest accomplishment was setting up a community pea patch with the generosity of the Eastsound Water Users Association and the Eastsound airport. Shirley was an advocate of community and she loved Orcas Island dearly. She was on the school board, HOPE (Help Orcas Preserve its Environment), the Port of Orcas, Eastsound Water Users Association, the garden club, and she was a Master Gardener. Above all, Shirley was deeply connected to nature in her knowledge of birds and plants. She will be missed greatly, yet each person she met will have a memory to carry her in their mind and heart, always.
Shirley is survived by her children Bruce Scott, Nancy (Duane L.) Bartholomew, Steven Scott, Gregory (Irina) Scott, Sarah (Steve P.) Zoet, Caroline Scott and stepdaughter Laurie Aggas; granddaughter Christina (Justin S.) Zoet, grandson James Scott; great-grandchildren Darin Peterson and Jayden Hughes; sister-in-law Jeanne Fowles; five nephews; her first husband and life friend, Sumner T. Scott; and life partner Joyce Heinze.
A celebration of Shirley’s life will be announced later. We will share what Shirley loved most: art, cooking, gardening and community.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to Hospice House in Bellingham, the Orcas garden club, Orcas seniors or the Animal Protection Society. For more information you can call Caroline Scott at (360)376-5250; to sign the condolence guest book, go to www.jernsfuneralchapel.net.