Cover photo for Shirley Morganti's Obituary
Shirley Morganti Profile Photo
1935 Shirley 2024

Shirley Morganti

August 29, 1935 — February 2, 2024

St. George, Utah

Shirley Jean (McCullough) Morganti, her loved ones at her side, passed peacefully into the Lord's arms Friday evening, February 2, 2024 at St. George Regional Hospital.

Shirley was born on her family's farm just outside of Hennessey, Oklahoma, on July 29, 1935, the youngest child of Steven and Dora (Hutchison) McCullough, both of whom were widowed with grown children. Steven had farmed his whole life, and Dora was the granddaughter of the last Oklahoman survivor of the Civil War.

In 1944, Shirley's parents moved the family to Santa Maria, California, having lost everything to the Dust Bowl. Steven went to work for Union Oil in the Orcutt Hills, where he quickly rose to Crew Chief, giving the family financial security for the first time in memory. Shirley was an outgoing, fun-loving child (if a little spoiled by her older brothers and sisters). She grew up with children of other Dust Bowl refugees, forming friendships that would last her whole life. 

Like most young men in 1944, Shirley's male siblings were fighting in WWII. She used to tell the story of the time she was at the local movie house when she spotted her young, handsome, beloved brother in a newsreel about the Navy's newest aircraft carrier. She and her friends rushed home to tell her parents, and over the next week the Santa Maria Theater enjoyed blockbuster attendance as everyone in town returned again and again to cheer the fleeting moment of George's smiling face aboard the USS Lexington. The thrill soon faded, though, as the family got word that George had lost his life, and the newsreel would be the last they would ever see of him. To her dying day, the memory brought tears to Shirley's eyes.

After high school, Shirley traveled back to Oklahoma with her mother, who was dying of cancer and wished to leave this world in the place she had lived most of her life. When Dora passed away, Shirley accompanied her adventurous father to the woods of Oregon, where he worked as a logger. It was at a Saturday dance in the little village of Sweet Home, Oregon where 18-year-old Shirley got a little overheated and fainted into the arms of 25-year-old Bob Morganti, a quiet, honest Korean War vet with a knack for working on cars. Bob took her outside for some air, beginning a romance that would last almost 60 years.

The Morgantis were made for each other. Bob, the shy, warm, hard-working father and husband, and Shirley, the passionate extrovert for whom no one was a stranger, and who loved as fully as anyone who ever took breath, lived most of their sometimes turbulent, always joyful lives on the Central California coast. They raised four loving sons, and were the hub of a circle of friends who never disconnected, even when they moved to their adopted home of St. George.

In 2012 the romance was interrupted when Bob passed away. Shirley's light dimmed, but she kept active, working for her church charities and enjoying her grandchildren, the new little lights of her life.

Shirley is with Bob again, and with God's blessing their memory will never fade.

Shirley is survived by her four sons: Kevin, Gregory, William, and Bruce, as well as nine grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandson, and one baby great-granddaughter who, through the modern miracle of video communication, Shirley met just three weeks before her passing.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Shirley Morganti, please visit our flower store.


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