Shirley Luther Hensley
December 16, 1936 – May 4, 2022
“They say I have gone on to a better place, but I liked it pretty good right here!”
Quoting Shirley L. Hensley, “Just a boy from Amandaville,” across the Coal River from St. Albans, WV, who did alright for himself and those around him in his 85 years. He outlived his immediate family, parents Blanche (Hayden) and Elzie Luther Hensley, siblings Juanita, Denny, Linda, and infant Peggy. He lived a precarious life of mischief and adventure, which should have been his demise many times over the years, but he always rallied to hear, “Shirley Hensley rides again!” He was a hometown football hero in the 1950’s when everyone of all ages went to the games. “Crazy Legs Hensley” made fantastic runs, fumbles, and recoveries that many folks could recap, play by play, five decades later! Quite well known for his extra-curricular activities, too, he was often seen jumping off high bridges into the rivers, but as a lifeguard assigned to check the water at the beach, he dove in and hit a sandbar, breaking his neck, paralyzing him for several days. He graduated from St. Albans High School with a full body cast, but managed to keep his scholarship that fall and played football as a WV Mountaineer and played his second year at Taft Jr. College in California, where he figured out he “just wasn’t good student material.” He survived “living in the backwoods of Utah and Colorado on a uranium deal,” “served inside the city limits of New Orleans” in the Army, where he managed once again to break his neck, this time on the obstacle course, and he was grateful that the VA took very good care of him all these years. Shirley married Margaret Ann Finney from Dunbar, WV, and they have two daughters Jan and Leslie. He worked at FMC in WV and at B & W in Barberton, OH, living in the Portage Lakes. The second time around he married Debbie Gamauf Green and made her two kids, Deonna and Eric Green, his own. Shirley was always taking chances and lived with his aches and pains, enjoying all he could handle… fishing, playing pool and slot machines, woodworking, dancing the Jitterbug (only about half a song), riding his scooter to “people watch” and enjoying the sunshine as a snowbird in Pompano Beach, Florida, and best of all being “the entertainment committee” wherever he was! Left behind to carry on are his wife Deborah Hensley, daughters Jan Hensley, Leslie (Paul) Flowers, Deonna (Keith) Dirham, and son Eric (Cheryl) Green. His grandchildren are Paul, Abigail, and James Flowers, Lucas and Sydney Green, Bryson, Magnolia, and Azalea Dirham and so many honorary grandkids who have been around him all their lives. He also leaves his brother-in-laws Phillip Couk, Paul (Nancy) Gamauf, and James (Diane) Gamauf.
In WV, FL, and Ohio, his dear, close friends have meant so much to him, with so many literally saying, “I loved that man!” A full day of honoring Shirley on Saturday, June 11, 2022, begins at Billow Funeral Home, 85 N. Miller Road Fairlawn, OH 44333, with visitation from 1pm to 3pm. At 3pm we will share adventures and stories about Mr. Shirley L. Hensley and we encourage you to tell us yours! We will stay as long as it takes and invite friends to join his family in further festivities with food and beverages at an announced location. Creation has taken place. Donations may be made in his honor to the RISE Gary Sinise Foundation at www.garysinesefoundation.org or to the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, 350 Opportunity Parkway, Akron, OH 44307. To Share a Memory, Send a Condolence, or Light a Candle visit the Tribute Wall at www.billowfuneralhomes.com (Billow FAIRLAWN Chapel)
Posted online on May 31, 2022
Published in Akron Beacon Journal