Shirley Rita (Smith) Garfield

Shirley Rita (Smith) Garfield, 92, died peacefully in her sleep on January 3, 2023, surrounded by her beloved children in her Lawrence home of 53 years.

Shirley was born on Sept. 2, 1930 in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Baruch and Esther Smith, who were part of the wave of Jewish immigrants from Poland and Central Europe who came to the United States before the immigration limits of the 1920s.

She was the oldest child of her dad’s second marriage and fourth of his five children. A serious and diligent student, Shirley received a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from Brooklyn College, graduating Cum Laude and inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. She went to graduate school at Columbia University, where she earned a master’s degree in social welfare.

In 1954, she met her future husband, Goodwin “Goody” Garfield, at a social work conference in Atlantic City. They soon knew they would spend the rest of their lives together, and enjoyed 64 memorable, heartfelt years until Goody’s death in 2021.

In 1969, Goody was recruited to a faculty position at Kansas University School of Social Welfare, and he and Shirley moved to Lawrence with their three children. It was culture shock for this Brooklyn girl, but Shirley gradually embraced the Midwest and became active in the Lawrence Jewish Community Center, making countless lifetime friends and volunteering there.

Shirley continued her social work career after serving previously as children’s supervisor at Bronx River Community Center in New York. She worked at Jewish Family and Children Services in Kansas City, and from 1970 until her retirement in 2003 she worked as a field instructor at KU, mentoring and impacting the lives of thousands of social work students. In an era when most women stayed at home, Shirley worked most of her adult life.

She was a fierce Democrat who supported many progressive causes. She made and brought food to the ill in the community and volunteered at Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen (LINK) after retirement, serving meals to the homeless and needy.

She was a lifelong learner, a devotee of mystery novels, the theater, the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle, and a fashionista, who loved to knit for loved ones. She was an extremely strong and courageous woman, feisty as can be, and she never minced words. She was a truly loving and devoted mother and grandmother, aunt, cousin, and friend.

Shirley was preceded in death by her husband, Goodwin Garfield, her parents, and her four brothers and sisters — Max, Muriel, Kate, and Martha. She is survived by her children: David Garfield of Lawrence, KS; Deborah Garfield of Ashland, MA; Michael Garfield (Catherine Marquardt) and their son Noah of Ann Arbor, MI; her nephews, nieces, adopted children, and a wondrous community of friends.

Her memory and unconditional love will live on in the hearts and minds of all who knew her. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be sent to the Lawrence Jewish Community Center, and the Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen (LINK), in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, 601 Indiana St., Lawrence, KS., 66044.

Messages & Condolences

From Rosemary Chapin...

Goody and Shirley befriended me as soon as I joined the faculty at the School of Social Welfare in 1989. So many great memories, but a favorite was them dancing in top hats,Shirley with a boa, at our 50th anniversary in 2018. They were such great role models.

From Mary Whitaker Davidson...

Shirley was my neighbor for years. We had many discussions in our back yards. I loved her. She was so insightful, funny, and bright. She loved her children and husband very much. I really enjoyed visiting with her so often. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

From Gus McClelland...

I knew and enjoyed working with both the Garfields! I was in one of Goody’s first classes in 1969. I enjoyed field liaison work with Shirley in later years. Lawrence and KU will miss them both.

From Uta Walter...

Shirley and Goody – what a pair. I feel blessed to have known them both, first in the KU School of SW context but later even more importantly as avid art enthusiasts, ever curious intellectuals, devoted Jewish Community members … and I can still taste her brisket… your memory is indeed a blessing!

From Le-Thu Erazmus Campbell...

Dear Garfield family,
So sorry for the loss of Shirley and Goody in 2021. Losing a parent is never easy. Know you’re in my thoughts and prayers. Shirley is now reunited with her soul mate, Goody. May you both rest in peace. I know you will continue to watch over your family. I have so many fond memories of your parents! =) I worked in the School of Social Welfare while working on my bachelor’s degree in the 1990s. Sending love, peace and light.

From Shelley & Richard...

Thinking of all of the Garfields at this time and having very special memories of times with Aunty Shirley.
So glad she passed peacefully. Sending lots of love from your Canadian family, all the Joseph’s.

From Fran and Dan Breslauer...

From Fran and Dan Breslauer
We send our condolences and the times spent with her.

From Rosalee Neibarger...

I knew both Shirley and Goody through working in the School of Social Welfare. They were both lovely people and so good to me.

From John Berndt...

So sorry to hear of Shirley’s passing. She was my field advisor from class of 77. She motivated me to continue my graduate studies. She is the reason I stayed in social work because of her caring and guidance. KU lost a great soul!

From Paula Rozyn...

She was a wonderful person. So sorry to hear about her passing. I was in the MSW class of 1983

From Barb Young Innes...

Shirley was my BSW advisor in school. Goody & her were both important in graduate school, too! They both made a difference!

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