Death of Shirley Ann McGarrell

   Life Stories | Posted on October 13, 2022

Shirley Ann McGarrell
July 4, 1939–Sept. 4, 2022

Shirley Ann McGarrell, nee Martinborough, of Apopka, Florida, died on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022, at the Orlando Regional Medical Center in Orlando, Florida. Hospitalized after a fall, she succumbed to pneumonia. She was 83.

Born in Vreed en Hoop, Guyana, Shirley was the second child of Gordon O. Martinborough (Papa), a police officer, and Maize Lawrence Martinborough (Mother Maisey), a homemaker. Young Shirley enjoyed singing and spent many evenings with her siblings learning hymns and spiritual songs from their beloved Uncle John, her father’s brother. The family later moved to Buxton, Friendship Village, Guyana, where she met the love of her life, Roy McGarrell. They wed on June 25, 1962, at the Buxton Seventh-day Adventist Church. Subsequently, André Roy Fenton, Fern Althea and Faith-Ann Abiola were born into this union.

Shirley pursued her education with passion. She loved words—both poetry and prose. In 1961, she earned an Associate of Arts in secretarial science from Caribbean Union College, now the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) in Trinidad, West Indies. Her studies continued at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English (1983) and a Master of Arts in English literature (1985). With encouragement from Sylvan Lashley, then president of CUC, she began doctoral studies. In 2000, she earned a Doctor of Philosophy in curriculum and instruction with an advanced cognate in English from Andrews University.

Yet, more than words, Shirley McGarrell loved people, a love demonstrated in the twinkle of her eyes, the sparkle in her smile and the kindness and generosity of her spirit. She enjoyed being a teacher and taught at all levels, from small schools in Wismar and New Amsterdam, Guyana, to working as a writing tutor and instructor at Andrews University and as an English professor at USC.

Her ability to connect with others served her well in the many administrative roles she held during her lifetime. She served as the dean of women at CUCC (1970–1972) and as an administrative assistant for the Guyana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (1972–1980) and the English department at Andrews University (1984–1988). In 1988, she returned to Caribbean Union College to serve as chairperson for the English department, a position she held until 1994. Shirley subsequently held several administrative roles of which she was the first woman to do so: dean of the faculty of humanities and social sciences (1995); vice president for Academic Administration (1998); president (interim), leading the transition from college to university (2002); vice president for Academic Administration (2003); and vice president for General Administration (2005), a position she held until her retirement in 2011.

One of her lifelong dreams was to be a published author, and she pursued this with delight and laser focus. She published eight books, and the ninth, currently in press, will be published posthumously. Shirley also received several awards for outstanding service. These include being selected as Andrews University’s 100 Women of the Century (2002), having the USC Future Leaders’ Debate Competition named in her honor (2014), and receiving the USC Founders’ Day Lifetime Achievement Award on the occasion of the university’s 94th anniversary (2021).

Shirley is survived by her husband, Roy McGarrell of Apopka, Florida; her sister, Dolly Martinborough-Teixeira (husband, Clement) of Mount Vernon, New York; her two daughters, Fern McGarrell-Hudson (husband, Carl) of Apopka, Florida, and Faith-Ann McGarrell of Silver Spring, Maryland; and her daughter-in-law, Grace McGarrell (husband, André) of Hanford, California. She is also survived by her grandchildren, whom she adored: Safiya and Stephen Hudson, and Marcello and Gabrielle McGarrell.

She is preceded in death by her parents and her older brother, Gordon Martinborough (2021), her younger brother, Patrick Martinborough (2016), and her son, André McGarrell (2019).

Her life was one of dedicated service, the impact of which will ripple through generations to come. She awaits the call of the Life-giver, her Savior, Friend and Lord, Jesus Christ.