Shirley Anne Colona passed away on the morning of May 21 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, surrounded by her children after losing a hard-fought battle with a rare autoimmune condition.

Shirley was born on Feb. 5, 1937, in Millsboro to Carlton and Nettie Whaley. She was the sixth of 13 children and had eight sisters and four brothers. Shirley grew up on her family’s farm, often helping with its operations and caring for her younger siblings. She demonstrated a keen intellect from a young age and skipped the fifth grade, eventually graduating from Millsboro High School at the age of 17.

Shirley met the charming, charismatic Bob Colona at the age of 18 through her brother Carlton while living in Seaford. It was love at first sight. They were wed on Feb. 4, 1956, the day before her 19th birthday.

Shirley worked as a supervisor for Bell Telephone until resigning to serve as the chief house general for the Colona residence. Shirley ran an incredibly tight ship while caring for her and Bob’s two children, Robert and Michelle. She lived in the same home with Bob for over 60 years until their combined passing just 17 days apart.

Shirley was an incredibly intelligent, resilient, and worldly woman. She was an exceptional bridge player and spent her time reading about different cultures and honing her intellect through crossword puzzles. She played an invaluable role in raising her children and three grandsons into capable, inquisitive, compassionate individuals and was an absolute pillar of her Seaford community for almost 70 years. Shirley was an active member of St. John’s Methodist Church, tutored underprivileged children in reading, and participated in numerous charity events and fundraising initiatives for the community at large.

Shirley is survived by her son, Robert Carlton Colona (father of the late Garett Robert Colona) and his partner Gail Larmore; Michelle Colona Alvarez and her husband Jorge Alvarez; grandsons Dr. Christian Alvarez and PhD candidate Robert Alvarez; sisters Elaine Cullen, Rebecca Poffenberger (Leon), Diane White (Jerry), and Judy Hastings; sister-in-law Dorothy Whaley; and brothers Richard Whaley and Dennis Whaley, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

Shirley and Bob Colona had a combined funeral service on Tuesday, May 28 at the St. John’s United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the International Vasculitis Foundation via Make a Donation.