Shirley Ann Vaerewyck, PhD passed away on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 from complications of leukemia with her three sons by her side. Born November 18, 1942 in Mishawaka, Indiana, to Richard Gerard Vaerewyck and Janet Helen (nee Hathaway) Vaerewyck, who preceded her in death, Shirley was a lifelong scientist and educator who earned her Master’s Degree at Ball State Teachers College, and her PhD at the University of Iowa in 1975. Shirley began her career in scientific research and education with several universities including Washington University, St. Louis, MO and the University of Miami, Miami, FL where she helped make early contributions to diabetes research. As her children were born, Shirley made the transition to full-time science educator at Alexander Montessori School and MAST Academy. She capped off her career teaching 7th and 8th grade science at Ransom Everglades Middle School where she worked for 20 years until her retirement in 2014.
Shirley loved her community, and was always generous with her free time. Over the years she served as YMCA soccer coach, USS swimming official, Science Fair judge, and while at Ransom Everglades she instructed swimming, tennis, cheerleading, cooking club, sewing club, and many more. Shirley had a wonderful sense of adventure and in recent years traveled the world visiting such places as Costa Rica, Argentina, Spain, Italy, France, Russia, and Scotland to name a few. Her personal passion was ballroom dancing, especially the Argentine Tango, and she was so grateful to be welcomed into the ballroom dance community in Miami.
Shirley is survived by her three sons David, Daniel and Andrew; her former spouse and father of her sons, Anthony Hajek; her brothers Eugene (Janice) and Larry (Amy), sister Sally (Frank) Walter; her sister-in-law Anna (Joseph) Hajek, and many nieces, nephews, colleagues and friends. Shirley will be remembered as a loving mother and sister, nurturing teacher, adventurous traveler, avid dancer, and most of all for her beautiful smile that lit up all our lives.
A celebration of life will be held at the Ransom Everglades Upper School campus in the Pagoda from 2:00pm - 3:30pm on Sunday February 4, 2018. Please join us as we share our cherished memories of Shirley's life and remember her wonderful spirit and the lasting impact she had on all of us. Light refreshments will be served.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider donating to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in Shirley’s name. Donations can be made by visiting https://donate.lls.org/lls/donate or by mailing a check to the following address:
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
ATTN: Donor Services
PO Box 98018
Washington DC, 20090-8018