Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Shirley A. Minett

Honored June, 2010

Shirley A. Minett

A quiet wisdom, a gift for nurturing, and a great sense of humor are hallmarks of Shirley Minett’s character, according to her friends who have long believed that she is a living treasure.

A visionary and a humanitarian, many people regard Shirley as their best friend and someone who can be counted on. It says a lot about her that some friends have wanted her with them when they faced the end of life. She has held their hands and offered steady comfort. And, her friends have helped her through some difficult times also.

Shirley’s rich life encompasses many loves—family and friends, animals, art, and the Santa Fe Living Treasures program that she helped found in 1984. She says she is blessed by the association with so many wonderful individuals honored over the years. Being allowed into their lives as she interviewed them was a joy. She realizes more clearly now, she says, how previous Treasures must have felt.

Shirley studied at the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota. She is an artist in many media, including clay, painted tin, fiber art, and carved wooden animals. She has loved creating art since her childhood. She generously donates not only her sought-after art pieces to various charities, but also gives time and encouragement to other artists.

At the Ringling School she met and fell in love with Tom Minett, a young artist in a wheelchair who became her husband. Being a World War II paraplegic was not an obstacle for him, Shirley said, and despite the challenges, she never hesitated in marrying him. When Tom died in 2008, they had been married for 55 years, had a daughter, and enjoyed a full, happy life. Tom’s 62 years in a wheelchair made him one of the longest surviving paraplegic World War II vets—a fact that many attribute to Shirley’s loving care.

Friends have said: “She helps to make this world a village.” “My friend Shirley sees a need and quietly touches the lives of many without fanfare or public accolade.” “Place a lost soul before her, be it furry, feathered, or one of us, and Shirley will reach out her hand. Through acceptance, patience, and a true love of the unique spirit of each being, she heals—and she expects no recognition for this. ‘It’s just what we do,’ Shirley believes.”

Story by Barbara Harrelson

Photo © 2010 by Genevieve Russell