Cover photo for Shirley Damigo's Obituary
Shirley Damigo Profile Photo
1937 Shirley 2024

Shirley Damigo

May 1, 1937 — February 19, 2024


Shirley LaDeane McCollum Damigo, after suffering from dementia and several health crises that had left her bedridden, was welcomed into the presence of the Lord on February 19, 2024.   

Shirley was born on May 1, 1937, in Davidson, Oklahoma, and was the only child of Robert Edward McCollum and Laura Louise Dixon McCollum, both of whom had worked on their family’s multi-generational farms since they were young. After the devastation of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl and drought, along with the destitution of the Great Depression, Shirley and her parents moved to San Mateo County, California. They attended church, and at an early age, Shirley asked the Lord to come into her heart and save her.  During her elementary years, Shirley fell in love with the breathtaking views of the county:  the flower-speckled hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay, the thick fog rolling in around the Golden Gate Bridge, and the waves crashing on the beaches that she walked along with her dog. Her favorite restaurant was Alioto’s on Fisherman’s Wharf, and in later years her answer to the question “Where would you like to eat dinner tonight?” without hesitation would always be Aliotos!” as if it was just a close drive away.  

During World War II, Shirley’s father worked as a civilian electrician. While servicing an airplane hanger, he fell 30 feet, sustaining life threatening injuries; he spent months in the hospital and a year in a body cast. To make ends meet Shirley’s mother worked as a clerk in a ladies’ clothing store, at the shipyard painting identification numbers on ships, and working the projection booth at a theater, where Shirley would help out by folding the seats upright after the movies. On Saturdays, she and her mother often packed a picnic lunch, a sketchbook, and a pencil.  Shirley’s proficiency grew as she captured in great detail the birds, animals, and flowers around her.  One of her teachers noticed her talent and suggested she start taking art lessons offered by the deYoung Museum located in the Golden Gate Park.

In her early teens, Shirley’s parents moved to Diamond Springs, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. In high school, she was the president of the El Dorado High photography club, a Girl Scout, worked at the cannery in the summers, sang in the church choir, was faithful in the church youth group, and was an avid horseback rider.  She continued to develop her skills through art classes and whenever she found an interesting subject—which was most often a horse. 

Not long before high school graduation, Shirley was babysitting the children of one of her mother’s co-workers. He was hosting a welcome home party for his brother Angelo, being honorably discharged from the Navy after his service in the Korean War. That night Angelo asked Shirley, the blond-haired blue-eyed beauty, out on a date.  Citing her years in San Francisco during World War II and the sometimes dubious reputation of military men on leave, she rebuffed Angelo: “I don’t date sailors.  But I might make an exception if you can show me your discharge papers and if you go to church with me.” Angelo brought her his papers, and he showed up Sunday morning for church. The son of a Greek immigrant and raised in the customs and traditions of the Greek Orthodox Church, Angelo heard the gospel presented clearly and simply for the first time at that little community church: “You are a sinner and cannot earn your way to heaven. Christ died for your sins, conquered death, and will forgive you if you ask.” Angelo prayed, asked for His forgiveness, and accepted the Lord’s salvation.

Shirley and Angelo were married five months later, and she was inducted into a large Greek family.  With the help of her mother-in-law, she learned to make Greek food fit for the old country, with her baklava being the star.  For 55 years Angelo dedicated his life to Christian ministry and Shirley, as the wife of a pastor, used her art and attention to detail in teaching Sunday school classes, ladies’ conferences, in her employment, and her home.  She also worked several years as a librarian at two junior high schools, as a file manager for an electric company and an international safety assurance company, and as an artist at a well-known Christian textbook publisher.  During that time Shirley and Angelo welcomed three children, as well as a menagerie of cats, dogs, chickens, ducks, goats, rabbits, sheep, and her treasured Arabian stallion, Rajah. These beloved pets came to life in her artwork. 

Throughout most of Shirley’s adult life, she endured various medical issues. Old horseback-riding injuries took their toll, and she survived lymphoma. Through all of this, she was a maker, producing items of beauty such as carved gesso eggs, paintings of the scenes she loved, and sachets abloom with satin roses and pearls, to name a few. The quality of her work and attention to detail were unparalleled, and wherever Shirley went, she brought beauty to the mundane.  Creating one-of-a-kind gifts that reflected the beauty and truth of God’s creation to bring joy or uplift family, friends, and hurting persons was Shirley's love language, ministry, and legacy. 

Shirley was preceded in death by her father Robert Edward McCollum and her mother Laura Louise Dixon McCollum, her husband of 59 years Angelo Damigo, her son Michael Christopher Damigo, and granddaughter Christina Lee Thompson. She is survived by her daughters Suzanne Damigo McGinness (Jim McGinness) and Kathleen Damigo Thompson (Del Thompson), daughter-in-law Charilyn Haley Damigo, as well as 10 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.

The family will hold a private memorial service.  

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Shirley Damigo, please visit our flower store.


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