Shirley Sue Roney, 74, of Mt. Vernon, began her celebration in heaven Friday, July 14, 2017.
She was born April 2, 1943 in Bonnie, daughter of Warren G. and Zela Ruth (Allen) Howard.
Shirley was an accomplished journalist and author who blazed trails for women in sports and media. She was also a humanitarian, working to help the homeless and substance abusers. She completed college at Southern Illinois University after starting a family and began her journalism career covering campus riots during the Vietnam War. After serving as news anchor for a station owned by Ed Sullivan, she became one of the first female reporters allowed inside Gasoline Alley to cover the Indy 500. She left Indy to become Associate Sports Information Director at Illinois State University, where she wasa pioneer in the promotion of womens collegiate sports. Her multi-faceted career has included a stint as Coordinator of the Illinois Coalition for the Homeless and time at the Illinois Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse. During her recent years, Shirley took on teaching, working mostly with youth needing special attention, which she lovingly provided.
Shirley was a highly talented and passionate musician who performed gospel and Christian music throughout her life. She began singing and playing piano at eight, her first audience being the homeless at a rescue mission founded by her grandfather, Ronald Allen. She performed solo and often with her sister, Patty, and son, Scott.
Shirleys roots in Southern Illinois run deep. Her grandfathers grandfather came to Illinois as a 13-year-old on the Cherokee Trail of Tears. She developed an intense interest in this family heritage and Southern Illinois history later in life and wrote numerous books based upon this interest and her Christian faith. Shirley published her first paperback novel, "The Helmet" in 2003. She subsequently wrote three additional books in that series, a history of Spring Garden and Nancy Allen and the Cherokee Trail of Tears, a work of historical fiction based upon her ancestors story of ministering to the Cherokee and making the trek with them from North Carolina to Illinois.
Shirley loved her family deeply and spent much of her time at family events and activities, especially youth sports. She is survived by her special friend Bob Clayton of Ina; one son, Scott Allen Roney and his wife, Cheryl (Hulbert) Roney of Chandler, Arizona; grandchildren, Dane Allen, Savannah and Addison Roney; great-grandchildren,Briley and Bren; three siblings, Patty Hale of Bonnie, Karen Griffith of Sesser, and T.J. Howard, of Bonnie; nieces and nephews Tony Hale, KayCee Hale, Malori Newbury, Kyle Lamichhane and Dristi Lamichhane; and great-nephews Tyler Winchester, Ryker Pitchford, and Wyatt Newbury.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 22 at Bonnie Baptist Church. Friends may call from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, July 21 at the Johnston Funeral Home in Ina or at 12 noon at the Bonnie Baptist Church prior to the service on Saturday. Burial will be at Bethel Memorial Cemetery in Mt. Vernon.
Memorials may be made in lieu of flowers to the Siteman Cancer Center Development Office, Washington University, CB 1204, 7425 Forsyth Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63105-2161 with designation for pancreatic cancer research. Donations can be accepted at the visitation.
Published on July 17, 2017