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.