Shirley was born in Fall River, MA, on August 23, 1923, the daughter of the late Stanley and Ann (Grogan) Mullen. On October 28, 1944, Shirley married John W. Spera in North Carolina.
She is survived by her children: Frank (Dee) Spera, Stuart, FL; John Spera, Milton, DE; Kathy Austin, Waupaca, WI; Stephen Spera, Madison, WI; Matthew (Pauline) Spera, Le Center, MN; and her many beloved grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Shirley was preceded in death by her parents, her sister, Kay, and her husband. Shirley had many nicknames for her many roles in life. As a girl, friends called her by her initials-SAM, and of course, she was Mom to her children. To her grandchildren and their friends, she was Nan, and to her great-grandchildren, Gigi. She worked many jobs while raising her children, including working as a riveter during WWII, a school bus driver, a day care teacher and an Avon lady. She had many passions and always loved to play in her “Crisis Corner.” To her, playing meant singing, whittling, crocheting, painting, reading and drawing. She had a tremendous gift for music and played piano, banjo, harmonica, castanets, a saxophone she made from PVC and anything else she could get her hands on. She loved acting and directing and was in many community theater productions in both Waupaca and Ft. Lauderdale, FL, where she founded LILT, the Lauderdale Isles Little Theater. She participated for many years in Weyauwega’s Lost Arts Fair demonstrating her gift for whittling flowers out of small maple branches and calling herself “Whittler’s Mother.” Shirley had a sharp wit, a great laugh and a heart of gold. She found beauty in everything. In her garden there were no weeds. If you had the pleasure of meeting Nan, you never forgot it.
Memorial services will be on Saturday, November 4, at 11 a.m. at the Holly Funeral Home in Waupaca with Father James Vennix officiating. Burial will take place at a later date in the Central Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery, King, WI. Visitation will be on Saturday morning from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to: The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, P.O. Box 5004, Hagerstown, MD. 21741-5004. Memo: The I Team. Holly Funeral Home in Waupaca is assisting the family with arrangements.