About Shirley Hershey Showalter
‘When I was little, I wanted to be big. And not just big as in tall, but big as in important, successful, influential. I wanted to be seen and listened to. I wanted to make a splash in the world.” – from Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets the Glittering World.
I was born on a farm one mile north of the town of Lititz, PA. The oldest of five children, I loved playing outdoors, reading, and going to school. My family, my school, and my church were my anchors. By the time I reached the sixth grade, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher and that I would have to leave home in order to achieve my dream.
In 1966, upon graduating from Warwick High School, I enrolled at Eastern Mennonite University. There I met the love of my life, Stuart Showalter, and married him just before my senior year of college. I taught high school English for two years before going to graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin.
From Austin we ventured to Goshen College (IN) where we thought we would stay for three years. Instead, we stayed for 28 years, the last eight years of which I served as president of the college. From there, we moved to Kalamazoo, MI, where I became Vice President of Programs for a private foundation, The Fetzer Institute. My complete curriculum vitae can be found here.
In 2010 Stuart and I moved to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Stuart took a job with our alma mater EMU and I began to write and speak full time. We moved to Brooklyn, 2011-2012, to help care for our first grandchild Owen. A year later my memoir Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets the Glittering World was published.
When our last granddaughter was born in Pittsburgh, we again moved close to her and her parents to help with the first 14 months of her life. These two intensive grandparenting experiences led me to study the changing role of grandparents in our society and to propose writing on this subject. Fortunately, my friend Marilyn McEntyre, a grandmother of nine, and a beautiful writer, joined me in the book project which became The Mindful Grandparent: The Art of Loving Our Children’s Children (May, 2022 Broadleaf Books).
“The patterns of our lives are essentially circular,” wrote Anne Lindbergh in Gift from the Sea (1941) In 2021 Stuart and I moved to a new home in a retirement community, Moravian Manor, located close to the farm where I grew up. We have been exploring the circle which brought me home, especially since our daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter now live close enough to visit almost every week, and Lydia does sleepovers at our house several times a month.
Life is full and rich as we enjoy walking or biking to downtown Lititz, my childhood Paris, nearly every day, weather permitting. We are connecting with old friends and making new ones And I am playing pickleball!