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Shirley Ravaris Elward


Shirley Ravaris Elward passed away on June 27, 2020. After a pancreatic cancer diagnosis in 2013, Shirley and her fiancé, Walter, worked tirelessly to find treatments to cure or prolong her life. These eastern and western treatments allowed her to live longer than 99% of patients who are diagnosed with this form of cancer. Shirley’s will to live and desire to experience more of life was unsurpassed.

Three aspects of Shirley’s life that stand out in particular are her appreciation for the importance of education, her love for family and friends and her feisty independence. Shirley was born in Woburn, to hardworking first generation Greek Americans. Her parents did not have an advanced education, but understood its value and emphasized it with Shirley. They also had an incredible work ethic that allowed them to persevere amidst such hardships as poor working conditions in a leather factory and below average wages. After graduating from Peabody High School in Peabody, Shirley attended and graduated from Salem State University with a degree in education.

Shirley, and her former husband, settled in Ipswich. Shirley had a decades-long teaching career in the Ipswich School system. Even just a few weeks before her passing, she reminisced about her former students, always with a smile and a hope, that she had made an impact. Shirley was adamant about providing the best possible education for her two sons and made significant personal sacrifices to ensure they were provided every opportunity - for which they are extremely grateful.

A few years prior to Shirley’s terminal cancer diagnosis, she met Walter. Their life partnership was remarkable to watch - two people in their early 60s, finding each other by happenstance while walking Shirley’s dog. While their time together was too short, they were a great couple and had memorable times before and after Shirley’s diagnosis. Walter was an amazing caregiver and support system for Shirley, for which her two sons can’t express enough gratitude. Walter will always be a part of their families.

Shirley’s greatest joy in life was family and close friends. She met friends through her career teaching, in her neighborhood in Ipswich, and while she was in search of cancer remedies. Her family is spread across the country, all standing by her in good and difficult times, but she was particularly close to her brother Lew and her cousin Dorothea. Shirley’s two sons, Nick and Bill were, in her words, “her life”. Shirley was an incredible guide and mentor to her sons, always ready and aptly able to provide advice and support. The fact that her two sons had families was even better. Shirley’s daughters-in law are Michele, who was a loving caregiver to Shirley later in life, and Lauren, who’s thoughtfulness was always appreciated. Shirley’s grandchildren are Jackie, Nick Jr, Peyton, Summer and Parker. There’s nothing that made Shirley happier than going to her grandchildren’s sports games. Her spitfire personality certainly was evident while cheering from the stands.

Shirley enters heaven and joins her father, William Lewis Ravaris, and her mother, Esther Jemas Ravaris.

Private funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Whittier-Porter Funeral Home of Ipswich. In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made in Shirley’s name to any cancer-related charity, or volunteer time be performed for any cancer-related organization.


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