Gladys Shirley Anne Elmer, 85, Black River

BLACK RIVER, NY —  Gladys Shirley Anne Elmer, 85, Black River, NY, passed away peacefully in her sleep at her Elmer farm residence in the early morning of Sept. 3, 2022.

Calling hours are 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022 at Reed & Benoit Funeral Home. The funeral service will be 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, at the Reed & Benoit Funeral Home. Interment will follow in Hillside Cemetery in Champion, NY.

She was predeceased by her husband of 55 years Carlton Charles Elmer, 85, her Mother Gladys Irene Mills Orr, and father William Irwin Orr, her sisters Eliza May Bodway, Ilah Marie Baker, Linda Norma Stevenson, her brother Paul Irwin Orr, and her granddaughter Katie Gaul.

She is survived by brothers William Larry Orr, David Lewis Orr, Edward Irwin Ross Orr, John Samuel Orr, and Sterling Kenneth Daniel Orr.  She is also survived by her five children; Denise Marie (Tom) Janson, Ruth Anne (Christopher) Gaul, Peter Orin Elmer (Cristi Flanigan), Jon David (Elizabeth) Elmer, and Thomas Irwin Elmer. Her grandchildren are Michael and Larissa Gaul, Matthew Elmer, and James and Joshua Elmer, all of whom she adored and enjoyed immensely. Maintaining contact with her immediate and extended family members was extremely important to her and her use of “THE Facebook” proliferated in her later years, maintaining these connections.

The Orr family immigrated from Gananoque, Ontario, with six children in 1946 bringing a herd of registered Holsteins and team of three horses, to reside on a farm in Rutland, NY.

Shirley attended Copenhagen Central School, graduating in 1955 with a concentration in business. She met Carlton Elmer, who lived on a neighboring farm, and they married in 1956 and started their family shortly thereafter. While raising her family, she supported Carlton’s Black River Tree Service as bookkeeper, and worked for the JCPenney company, retiring after 47 years of service. At JCPenney she first worked as a sales associate and ascended to buyer for Women’s fashion, and Customer Service Supervisor during her career, ultimately returning to sales and customer service on a part time basis prior to retiring. She loved working in these fashion and business positions at JCPenney. She enjoyed her colleagues enormously and was sought out by many customers because of her cheerful and helpful demeanor, often recognized while in the community for these attributes.

While raising children on the farm, Shirley made good use of a large garden with help from Carlton, her children and later, grandchildren.  The rhubarb patch, cherry trees, gooseberries and garden vegetables were put to good use during summer, and local wild apples were turned into applesauce.  She often preserved fruits and vegetables.  Her pumpkin pies, strawberry-rhubarb pies & jam, strawberry ice cream pie, curiously green icicle pickles, bread & butter pickles with cauliflower, dill bean pickles, canned peaches and pears, and egg battered zucchini were family favorites, and she made a fabulous strawberry ice cream pie, usually for picnics with extended family.

Shirley also made time in her schedule to support aging neighbors, providing home support.  She was active in the Rutland Congregational Church, Club 47, Friendship Circle, JCPenney Retiree Lunch Bunch, and other community activities.

Flowers may be sent to the funeral home or donations may be made to Black River Ambulance Squad, or Rutland Congregational Church.

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